Is Your Heart a Good Candidate for a Leadless Pacemaker?
A leadless pacemaker can reduce complications from surgery and infection. The device works well for some heart patients, but not for all. Find out if you’re a good candidate.
If your heartbeat is irregular, too slow or too fast, there is reason for concern. But there’s often a fix for this problem. For many patients, the answer is a pacemaker — an implantable electrical device that can help regulate your heart. And that technology has improved in important ways in recent years.
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Traditional pacemakers — ones that require surgery to implant the device and wires to connect it to the heart — can have unwanted complications, says cardiologist Daniel Cantillon, MD. Leadless pacemakers are an effective way to sidestep those issues.
“Having the option of a leadless pacemaker is important because surgical incisions are the most common complications for traditional pacemakers,” he says. “And, in an analysis of patient data, we’ve found that one in six pacemakers are, in fact, affected by complications.”
Here’s what you need to know about leadless pacemakers and whether one might be right for you.
Leadless pacemakers are self-contained. Doctors implant them into the heart’s right ventricle via a catheter threaded through the leg, which is then removed once the device is deployed internally.
They require no wires and no surgical pocket in the heart. They help keep a patient’s heart from beating too slowly, a condition called bradycardia.
Symptoms of bradycardia may include:
The devices work well for roughly 10 percent of patients with bradycardia who require a pacemaker, Dr. Cantillon says.
Within this group, those who will most benefit from leadless pacemakers experience three types of problems, he says.
Among eligible patients, there are still some who shouldn’t use them, Dr. Cantillon says. You fall into this category if:
If a leadless pacemaker won’t work for you at this time, it can still become an option in the future.
Researchers continue to focus on developing leadless pacemakers that will work for the remaining 90 percent of patients with bradycardia who require a pacemaker, Dr. Cantillon says.