In Lee County last year more than 1,000 patients received pacemakers for their heart. Doctors say a new device just made the common procedure easier for patients.
Dr. Erick Burton, a cardiologist with Lee Health, says inserting cardiac implantable electronic devices, also known as pacemakers, are common heart procedures. “There’s a lot higher likelihood of the need of a pacemaker as people get older.”
But a new device is changing how the procedure is done. “One of the nice features about this new device is there’s not necessarily a cosmetic tell-tale reminder that you have a heart problem,” said Dr. Burton.
That’s because the new device is implanted through an artery in the leg, instead of an incision in the chest.
The traditional device is placed underneath the skin just below the shoulder with a wire leading to the heart. Patients are left with a scar and often a bulge from where the pacemaker sits. The new device is placed directly into the heart. “It’s a new type of pacemaker that avoids some of the potential surgical complications that we see with traditional devices,” said Dr. Burton.
The traditional pacemaker has a wire that attaches from the pacemaker to the heart. Over time that wire can become stressed by the heartbeat, causing it to break. “We also can see issues that when we have to change the device out and replace the battery there’s an opportunity for infection to get into that area. Once that happens all of the hardware typically needs to be removed in order for us to clear that infection. So this new device avoids both of those potential complications,” said Dr. Burton.
The new device is 93 percent smaller than the traditional pacemaker, but offers the same 10 year lifespan for the patient. “Interestingly, we don’t really remove it like we would a traditional device and replace it; we just put a new one in on top of it,” said Dr. Burton.
The first procedure using the new device was done at Lee Health in June.
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