What is a pacemaker?
A pacemaker is a device that sends small electrical impulses to the heart muscle to maintain a suitable heart rate or to stimulate the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles).
Pacemakers are used to treat patients with brady-arrythmias, slow heart rhythms that may occur as a result of disease in the heart’s conduction system (such as the SA node, AV node or His-Purkinje network).
A leadless pacemaker is small self-contained device that is inserted in the right ventricle of the heart.
What are the benefits of a leadless pacemaker?
- It does not require connecting leads (wires) or a generator, or a creation of a surgical pocket on the chest. These are the most common causes of traditional pacemaker complications over the long-term, and may affect up to 1 in 10 patients.
- When the leadless device is in place, there is no lump under the skin on the chest or leads anchored to the muscle bed. Sometimes these cause minor discomfort for patients who live with traditional pacemakers. The incisional access for a traditional pacemaker and each generator replacement leaves a scar that is a cosmetic concern for some patients.
- The procedure uses a catheter to place the device. The procedure typically takes less time than a traditional pacemaker implant procedure.
- Because there are no wires or generator, you do not need to limit upper body activity after the implant.
Who is a candidate for a leadless pacemaker?
Not everyone is a candidate for a leadless pacemaker. Currently, the device is available only for patients with certain medical conditions and a slow heart rate (bradycardia) who need single-chamber pacing only. Like all pacemakers, leadless pacemakers require approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and sometimes there are additional restrictions upon availability for an individual patient. Your doctor can tell you if you are a candidate for a leadless pacemaker after a review of your medical history, heart rhythm, and the results of medical tests. You may need an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) or other noninvasive tests.