PADUCAH – Cardiologist Timothy McDermott, MD, who practices from Mercy Health-Heart and Vascular Institute in Paducah, performed the first implant of a new and advanced pacemaker in patient Doris Muir, 76, at Lourdes Hospital the week of July 19. The Micra Pacemaker from Medtronic is the world’s smallest pacemaker and it signals a technological advance with clear benefits for patients.

Before surgery, Muir “was really not feeling good at all. I came out of surgery feeling very good and that in itself made me really happy. I feel like I can be human again. It’s helped me be able to breathe and do activities.”

People with irregular or slow heartbeats many need a pacemaker to control their heartbeat and ensure their heart is pumping enough blood, especially if they experience fainting, exhaustion, frequent dizziness, strong palpitations or an inability to exercise without getting winded.

Traditional pacemakers require cardiologists to make an incision in the chest and insert a needle in one of the heart’s veins to run the pacemaker’s wires into the patient’s heart. The pacemaker typically sits on the chest near the collarbone, where it’s visible under the skin.

“Patients are left with scars and the leads in place,” McDermott said. “The leads add to the risk of infection and there’s a chance they can adhere to the heart. If the patient experiences an infection and needs their leads to come out, we have to send them to a specialized center for laser lead removal.”

“In contrast, the Micra Pacemaker is leadless and about the size of large vitamin. We go through the patient’s femoral artery to place it directly in the heart,” McDermott said.

Because the pacemaker is attached directly to the patient’s heart, it doesn’t require wires.

“That’s an advantage,” McDermott said. “There’s no leads, which means there’s less hardware to get infected. It’s not visible and because it goes in through the groin, there’s no unsightly incision, making this a more cosmetically appealing option. Going through the femoral artery also allows us to complete the procedure more quickly, in 30 minutes or less, making it an outpatient procedure in most cases. Most patients go home the same day.”

The Micra Pacemaker is for patients who need their atrial chamber paced. It runs on lithium iodine batteries, which last up to 12 years.