APRIL 19, 2017, KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) – The Keesler Medical Center became the first Air Force hospital to implant the world’s smallest pacemaker for patients with bradycardia April 13, 2017.
Bradycardia is a condition characterized by a slow or irregular heart rhythm, usually fewer than 60 beats per minute. At this rate, the heart is unable to pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the body during normal activity or exercise, causing dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath or fainting spells.
“It’s similar to driving a car without an accelerator,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Hann, an 81st Medical Operations Squadron interventional cardiologist. “You can coast along very slowly, but when it comes time to climb a hill, you don’t have an accelerator to get the RPM’s up to climb the hill and a heart rate is the same way. If (your) heart rate is too low you don’t have the energy to do activities you once enjoyed.”
Pacemakers are the most common way to treat bradycardia and restore the heart’s normal rhythm by sending electrical impulses to increase heart rate. The Micra Transcatheter Pacing System is a new type of heart device that provides patients with the most advanced pacing technology at one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker.
“This revolutionary technology will greatly improve patient outcomes and satisfaction,” said Col. Louis Gallo, the 81st MDOS commander.
Physicians at Keesler Air Force Base elected to use Medtronic’s Micra TPS because, unlike traditional pacemakers, the device does not require cardiac wires (leads) or a surgical “pocket” under the skin to deliver pacing therapy. Instead, the device is small enough to be delivered through a catheter and implanted directly into the heart with small tines, providing a safe alternative to conventional pacemakers without the complications associated with leads – all while being cosmetically invisible.
The Micra implant, which sits entirely in the heart, is about the size of a vitamin and the same weight as a penny, Hann said.
In addition to being undetectable and boasting a 12-year battery life, the breakthrough Micra TPS technology automatically adjusts pacing therapy based on a patient’s activity levels.
“Keesler (AFB) cardiology has always been very advanced in our practices,” Hann said. “We are very fortunate to be one of the first hospitals in the country to offer the smallest pacemaker in the world to our patients here at Keesler (AFB) and also our Veterans Affairs patients who extend all the way from the Florida panhandle through to Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.”
By Master Sgt. Tammie Moore, 81st Training Wing Public Affairs