New leadless pacemakers carry reduced risks of complications and are less invasive

Loyola Medicine is now offering select heart patients leadless pacemakers that are less invasive and cause fewer complications than standard pacemakers.

A pacemaker treats bradycardia, a slow heart rate, by providing an electrical stimulation to create a heartbeat at a programmed rate.

In a standard system, the pacemaker is implanted under the skin just below the collarbone. A lead (wire) extends to the patient's heart. The new leadless pacemaker does not have any wires. It also is miniaturized so the electronics, battery and delivery system are contained in one unit the size of a large vitamin pill.

"Patients can't even tell they have it," said cardiologist Peter Santucci, MD, medical director of Loyola's implant device program.

The leadless pacemaker is deployed with a catheter that is inserted in a patient's groin and guided through blood vessels up to the heart. The device is secured to heart muscle inside the lower right pumping chamber.

Unlike a standard pacemaker, a leadless pacemaker does not create a bulge under the skin.

Compared with standard pacemakers, leadless pacemakers carry reduced risks of infections and clots and also eliminate potential problems with heart valve function, Dr. Santucci said.

"The leadless pacemaker is another example of how Loyola is able to offer the most modern advances to our patients," Dr. Santucci said.

Not all cardiac patients who have bradycardia qualify for leadless pacemakers. To see if a leadless pacemaker may be right for you, see an electrophysiologist, Dr. Santucci said. (An electrophysiologist is a cardiologist such as Dr. Santucci who specializes in treating heart rhythm disorders.)

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