Leadless pacemaker expands treatment options for abnormal heart rhythm patients

November 11, 2020 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

It wasn’t what Kenneth Kasch expected. He went to Elmhurst Hospital in August with a very painful urinary tract infection. He left about a week later with a unique leadless pacemaker implanted in his heart.

Upon arrival at the hospital, doctors noticed Kasch’s heart rate was low.

“My heart rate typically is about 50 (beats per minute) or less,” says Kasch, a 73-year-old resident of Franklin Park. I never really thought it was a problem, but it was really low, in the 30s, while I was in the hospital.”

Further testing showed Kasch had an abnormal heart rhythm, specifically atrioventricular (AV) block, in which the electrical signals between the chambers of the heart (atria and ventricles) are out of sync.

Dr. Apoor Gami, a cardiac electrophysiologist on the medical staffs at Edward Hospital in Naperville and Elmhurst Hospital, recommended use of the Micra AV leadless pacemaker, not only to treat Kasch’s AV block and restore his heart’s normal rhythm, but for another very important reason.

“Kenneth was unique in that he is an older gentleman who suffered paraplegia in a work accident over a decade ago,” says Dr. Gami. “Since he moves in a wheelchair, he requires constant circular motions of both arms. Those motions are generally prohibited for several months with a traditional pacemaker, which is implanted in the upper chest and connected to the heart with leads (wires). Movement of his arms could dislodge the pacemaker leads and result in dangerous consequences.”

Micra AV, the smallest pacemaker of its kind in the world — about the size of a large vitamin and weight of a penny —  was ideal for Kasch because, unlike traditional pacemakers, it’s a single, self-contained device placed in the heart.

Dr. Gami implanted the Micra AV in Kasch’s heart on Aug. 21 at Elmhurst Hospital, which along with Edward Hospital, are among the first hospitals in the Chicago area to offer the device.

With Micra AV, Kasch has no arm restrictions and was able to resume using his wheelchair immediately after surgery without concern about complications.

“I think this device saved his life, since he had third-degree (complete) AV block, which can lead to sudden fainting, congestive heart failure or cardiac arrest,” says Dr. Gami.

Micra AV, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in January 2020, is approved for full-body MRI scans and also sends data to physician offices via the Medtronic CareLink Network so doctors can monitor their patients.

Dr. Gami says it’s just another example of Edward and Elmhurst Hospitals being at the forefront of emerging technologies that bring added benefits and safer approaches for patients.

“I think it speaks to the expertise of the cardiology program and physicians at Edward-Elmhurst Health,” says Dr. Gami. “Patients and families can expect to receive the highest level of expert cardiac care with access to the most advanced treatments and procedures, tailored to each individual's needs.” 

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Your heart is in expert hands when you choose Edward-Elmhurst Heart Hospital for your cardiovascular care. We are among the Healthgrades America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Care ™ (2021) and Edward Hospital is among the 50 Best Hospitals nationally for Cardiac Surgery™ (2020, 2021). Learn why for us, this is personal.

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