Section: Highlights

World’s Smallest Pacemaker Brings Big Benefits

04/19/2019
World’s Smallest Pacemaker Brings Big Benefits On Tuesday, Bonnie Williams, 77, lacked the energy to leave her house and wondered if she had much time left on earth. On Wednesday, she had a Micra pacemaker—about the size of a large vitamin—inserted to treat her atrial fibrillation. And on Thursday, she went shopping and wondered how to celebrate how incredible she felt.

“There hasn’t been a significant improvement in cardiac pacing in decades— until now,” explains Brian Kim, MD, Medical Director of the St. Jude Catheterization Lab and one of the first in the state to bring the benefits of the miniaturized pacemaker to patients.

With no wires or electrical leads, the tiny self-contained pacemaker is implanted directly into the heart’s right ventricle, allowing most patients to go home the same day. Inserted by a catheter through the femoral artery, the Micra requires no surgical “pocket” or incision, eliminating two of the most common complications.

In fact, Micra’s complication rate is almost 60 percent lower than traditional pacemakers—and the gains in convenience are equally impressive. “Patients typically go home the same day and resume normal activities within 24 hours, compared to standard pacemakers that require an arm sling for 4-6 weeks to prevent lead dislodgement,” says Dr. Kim, a boardcertified electrophysiologist who performed Orange County’s first Micra insertion two years ago, shortly after its FDA-approval.

While Micra is currently used to treat a limited number of cardiac patients, most often those with bradycardia, Dr. Kim says that will change. “This is the beginning of a paradigm shift away from how we have provided pacing therapy for the last 20 years.”

Bonnie’s grateful for the paradigm shift in her own life. “Dr. Kim told me these batteries will last about 12 years and then I’ll need to get a new one,” says the grandmother of 11. “I have quite a few things left to do.”

To contact Dr. Brian Kim, please call (714) 543-5555, or to find a cardiologist visit us online at stjudemedicalcenter.org/find-a-doctor.

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