UR Medicine cardiologists are first in region to offer the world’s smallest pacemaker for people with irregular or slow heart rhythms.
The Micra Transcatheter Pacing System is the most advanced technology available for people with bradycardia, a condition characterized by a slow heart rhythm. It is one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker and doesn’t have any wires extending to the heart. UR Medicine electrophysiologists David Huang, M.D., and Mehmet Aktas, M.D., implanted the lightweight device directly into the heart of a 67-year-old Ontario County man who experienced dangerously slow heart rates.
“This new pacemaker provides another tool in our arsenal for treating cardiovascular diseases,” said Huang, director of the Heart & VascularElectrophysiology Lab at Strong Memorial Hospital. “It is smaller than any other pacemaker available today and we are excited to offer this for our patients.”
Traditional pacemakers are about the size of a half-dollar coin with three times its thickness. They are placed in a small “pocket” just under the skin in the chest and have wires that extend from the device to send electrical impulses, when needed, to keep the heart rate from dropping too slow. The Micra TPS provides the same level of support, but it is about the size of a large vitamin pill and weighs 2 grams, the same as a penny.
The heart usually beats about 60 to 100 times per minute. Bradycardia is diagnosed when that rate is abnormally slow, and the heart is unable to pump enough oxygen-rich blood through the body, which causes people to feel dizzy or lightheaded, short of breath, tired or like they are ready to pass out. The condition is common in the elderly.
Using a small incision in the groin, the team of specialists delivered the device through a catheter inserted into the femoral vein that leads to the heart. Once properly positioned, Huang placed it within the right ventricle. They performed the procedure Nov. 17.
The pacemaker battery can last up to 12 years and the device is MRI compatible.
“The Micra TPS is a welcome new therapy for people with bradycardia,” Huang said. “In addition to its remarkably small size, it is designed to automatically adjust pacing therapy based on a person’s activity level.”
Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in April, Micra TPS is made by Medtronic and available at only 70 hospitals and academic medical centers across the country.