Testing a tiny pacemaker - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Testing a tiny pacemaker

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Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital were the first in the U.S. to implant a new, experimental pacemaker smaller than an AAA battery.

"This device doesn't require surgery, so that means there is a low risk of infection," said Dr. Vivek Reddy of Mount Sinai Hospital.

Surgeons use a catheter to guide the new device up through a vein in the leg and screw it directly into the heart muscle. Doctors say the new pacemaker doesn't have wires or leads, which may be another advantage.

"The problem is if ever that lead has to be removed then it's very difficult to remove that lead. It's also a problem because that lead, which is what communicates with the heart, that lead can fracture," Reddy said.

Pacemakers are necessary when a patient's heart doesn't beat fast enough or work properly. Reddy says the procedure to takes 5-10 minutes and the recovery is also faster.

The device corrected Gregory Dobin's heartbeat, restoring his pulse to a healthy 60 beats per minute. The 83-year-old, who was left with facial paralysis after cancer, says his breathing has also improved since getting the device.

"I feel much better, I'm telling you," Dobin said.

More than 600 patients are expected to take part in the nationwide study to make sure the new pacemaker is safe and effective.

If there's a problem, doctors can remove the pacemaker through a catheter. The device is already approved for use in Europe and currently can only be used to regulate the lower chamber of the heart.

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