Approximately 3 million people worldwide have pacemakers and an additional 600,000 get implanted each year. Pacemakers are the most common way to treat bradycardia, which is a slow or irregular heart rhythm that inhibits the heart from pumping enough oxygen-rich blood to the body, causing dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath or fainting spells. Pacemakers help restore the heart’s normal rhythm and relieve symptoms by sending electrical impulses to the heart to increase the heart rate.
Since their inception in 1949, pacemakers have significantly evolved. The original pacemaker was a bulky box which had to be plugged into the wall for power. Nearly a decade after the original pacemaker was invented, Medtronic developed a four-inch, battery-powered box that could be taped to the patient’s chest. Over the past 58 years, Medtronic has continued to create innovative pacemakers; each one providing more benefits than the last.
Medtronic recently developed the most ingenious pacemaker yet. The Micra® Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS) is the world’s smallest pacemaker, providing patients with the most advanced pacing technology at one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker. Comparable in size to a large vitamin, the Medtronic Micra TPS is unlike traditional pacemakers, because the device does not require cardiac wires (leads) or a surgical “pocket” under the skin to deliver a pacing therapy. Instead, the device is small enough to be delivered through a catheter and implanted directly into the heart with a small tine, offering a safe alternative to conventional pacemakers without the complications associated with leads — all while being cosmetically invisible.
Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital is the first hospital West of Kansas City to implant the Micra TPS, after being recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On May 26, Peter Chang-Sing, MD, board-certified cardiac electrophysiologist, successfully implanted the new device in Curtis West, a 70-year-old man who resides in Elk Grove, California. Curtis was transported from Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital to be implanted with the device. Mr. West was an ideal candidate for this procedure because the Micra TPS was the only pacemaker that could possibly be implanted in his chest, due to other points of entry being restricted.
“The Micra TPS allows us more options to treat patients, especially those with less conventional access. The risk of subsequent infections and lead issues that we have with conventional pacemakers are greatly reduced,” explains Dr. Chang-Sing. “This will be a game changer in the years to come.”
After his procedure, Curtis returned home to recover with his family. A month after his implant, he ecstatically reports, “I’m doing great!” Although there are still some limitations to what he can do on a daily basis, his recovery time was only about two days. “I would recommend this procedure to whoever needs a pacemaker,” Curtis added.
The Micra TPS is designed to automatically adjust pacing therapy based on a patient’s activity levels. It incorporates a retrieval feature to enable retrieval of the device when possible; however, the device is designed to be left safely in the body. For patients who need more than one heart device, the miniaturized Micra TPS was designed with a unique feature that enables it to be permanently turned off. This means it can remain in the body, and a new device can be implanted, without risk of electrical interaction.
Offering innovative technology, the Micra TPS is the first and only transcatheter pacing system to be approved for both 1.5 and 3 Tesla (T) full-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, allowing patients access to the most advanced imaging and diagnostic procedures available, if and when they need one.
“We are thrilled to offer residents of the entire North Bay this advanced technology. It is truly a remarkable advancement in patient care,” says David Ziolkowski, Chief Operating Officer, St. Joseph Health,Sonoma County. “As the region’s only Level II Trauma Center, we ensure that our patients receive the best care possible by continually working with our expert physicians to bring the latest evidence-based treatments to this community.”
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.