Tiny, leadless cardiac pacemaker sets hearts pacing

A HOBART man is one of the first Tasmanians – and the first in the state’s south – to receive a leadless pacemaker the size of a large vitamin.

Myles Foster was an “ideal candidate” for the new pacemaker and has received good results.

“Since I had the new pacemaker put in I have had no more dizzy spells and no more falls,” he said.

“Before I had the device, I had falls quite frequently and was even hospitalised because my heart was beating too slowly.

“Now I have more energy and simply feel better.”

The Medtronic Micra Transcatheter Pacing System delivers the most advanced pacing technology available to patients while weighing less than a coin.

Micra is delivered using a catheter and attached directly to the heart wall without the need for thin wires or leads.

Hobart Pathology is among the first specialist centres in the state to offer a full suite of cardiac services, enabling Tasmanians access to this technology and providing local post-operative care.

Mr Foster’s cardiologist, Dr Michael Coombes, said Tasmania had high rates of heart disease when compared to interstate.

He said the pacemaker was a state-of-the-art service.

“Unlike conventional devices which sit underneath the collarbone and are attached to the heart via wires passed through blood vessels, this pacemaker is inserted via a keyhole in the groin directly into the patient’s heart,” he said.

Cardiac electrophysiologist Dr Stewart Healy, based at the Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne, travels regularly to Hobart to consult with the team.

“Accessing healthcare is no longer state-based,” Dr Healy said.

“The team at Hobart Cardiology tap into Melbourne and tertiary services to promote the best quality care for Tasmanian patients.

“For example, Mr Foster was able to receive his device through my team in Melbourne and then remain in Hobart following the procedure under the care of Dr Coombes.

“Previously he would have had to return to Melbourne, but now he can stay local.”

A standard pacemaker carries the risk of bleeding and infection, both of which are minimised by this new technique.

“If this technology had not been available I would not be living the life I am today, where I am looking forward to many more years with my family and friends,” Mr Foster said.

“I am also thankful for the local healthcare support that’s now available.

“It makes a big difference to my quality of life being able to receive healthcare in Hobart and know that the doctors here know all about me.”

Pacemaker therapy is the most common way to treat bradycardia (slow heart beat).

It continuously monitors and delivers electrical pulses to the heart, in line with the needs of the individual patient.

Caption: From left, Hobart Cardiology practice nurse Jacqui McElwee, patient Myles Foster and cardiologist Dr Michael Coombes.