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Health First | Leadless pacemakers

Doctors say the main benefits of newer pacemakers: they don't have any wires, and the smaller size minimizes the number of potential problems.

Pacemakers have shrunk over the years. But their role in treating an irregular heart beat is still huge. This one is the size of a large vitamin, about one-tenth the size of a conventional pacemaker.

Pacemakers are needed to remind the heart to beat at a normal rate.

"Historically, pacemakers have always consisted of a computer and a battery that sit within the chest with a wire that goes through your veins to the heart," said Dr. Matthew Stopper.

Dr. Stopper is a cardiac specialist at Commonwealth Health Regional Hospital of Scranton. He says this tiny pacemaker doesn’t have any wires and is inserted directly into the heart itself through a minimally invasive procedure. The miniature size also minimizes the number of potential problems.

"The main benefit is it doesn't have any wires, so typically if something is going to go wrong with the pacemaker, the thing that would fail would be the wire that connects to the heart," he said.

Most pacemakers can be monitored by doctors remotely, which means the computer in the pacemaker connects to a wireless network from the patient’s home.

The battery in those leadless pacemakers usually lasts about 10 to 12 years and they are only available to patients with certain medical conditions.

To avoid ever needing a device like a pacemaker, doctors say the best thing you can do is exercise and don't smoke.


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