Your Health: Shocking hearts back into rhythm

Every year, 200,000 people will undergo surgery to have a Pacemaker implanted. Most Pacemakers last six to 10 years.
New Pacemaker vs. old Pacemaker
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 5:47 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Every year, 200,000 people will undergo surgery to have a Pacemaker implanted. Most Pacemakers last six to 10 years.

The biggest problem with traditional Pacemakers is that the wires that are used to send electrical currents into the heart to shock it back into rhythm, often break or fail. Now a new type of Pacemaker may keep hearts going without using any wires at all.

“How did you feel six months ago? How do you feel now? You know, how did you feel last year?” asks Dr. Venkata Sagi, an electrophysiologist at Baptist Health. “Are you able to do the things that you used to do six months ago?”

The answers to these questions can reveal a lot. Sometimes it’s age, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s a sign you have a heart problem.

“Patients experience fatigue, tiredness, lightheadedness, dizziness, and inability to meet the needs of daily life,” said Dr. Sagi.

People with slower-than-normal heart rates may need a Pacemaker that sends electrical impulses to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm.

Dr. Sagi is leading a study using a new leadless, or wireless, pacemaker that’s smaller than a triple-a battery. Unlike traditional Pacemakers, this new leadless pacemaker does not require a large incision in the chest. Instead, a catheter is used to insert it inside the heart.

“The advantage of this new technology is that there are two separate pacemakers that are implanted; one in the bottom chamber, one in the top chamber,” said Dr. Sagi.

The two devices wirelessly communicate with each other to restore a normal heart rhythm.

“They will find a remarkable improvement in their quality of life immediately,” said Dr. Sagi.

Another advantage of this new Pacemaker model system is that they are retrievable. With existing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pacemakers when it fails or needs to be replaced, the Pacemaker is usually left inside and another one is put in beside it.

With leadless Pacemakers, a doctor can remove it and put in a new one in a quick procedure.

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