Having a “big” heart is great when it comes to personality traits. When it comes to care of the heart, small is where it’s at.  

A new device in use at the Blessing Heart & Vascular Center is incredibly small yet having an incredibly big impact on the quality of life for heart patients.

John Hammock, MD, FACC, FHRS, cardiac electrophysiologist, Blessing Physician Services, cannot believe the size of the Micra pacemaker. Officially, it is one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker, comparable to a large multi-vitamin.

Manufactured by Medtronic, the Micra pacemaker helps patients with Bradycardia, a slow or irregular heart rhythm. 

The heart of patients with this condition is unable to pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the body during normal activity or exercise. Bradycardia causes dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath or fainting spells. 

The Micra helps restore the heart’s normal rhythm and relieve symptoms by sending electrical impulses to the heart to increase the heart rate.

Even more exciting than the Micra’s size is the fact that it does not get placed into a surgical pocket under the skin of the patient’s chest and has no leads, which are electrical wires that run from the pacemaker and attach to the heart muscle, as required with traditional pacemaker technology. 

Instead, the Micra moves through a catheter and is implanted directly into the heart, held in place by small tines.

“Pacemakers have been around for 30 years and the medical community always knew it had to figure out some way to eliminate the wires and the surgical pocket because they are the major contributors to complications,” said Dr. Hammock. “We’re finally there.”

Another benefit of the Micra is the ease of placement.

“It can take as little as 20 minutes to place a Micra, opposed to 60 to 90 minutes to place a traditionally-sized pacemaker,” Dr. Hammock added.

“Shorter placement time means reduced risk of infection, reduced need for anesthesia and greater patient comfort. I discharged a Micra patient home the same day I implanted their device,” he said. “That is not something that is frequently done in the country. In fact, I have not talked to anyone who is doing it yet, but I did it and the patient is doing great.”

At this time, the Micra is effective in treating Bradycardia originating in the heart’s bottom chamber. Technology is being developed at this time to make it effective in the heart’s top chamber.

For more information on heart care available at Blessing go online to blessinghealth.org/heart.