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Pacemaker

A pacemaker is a small device whose main purpose is to prevent the heart from beating too slowly. The device stimulates the heart muscle when the heart rate is too slow or altogether absent.

Over time pacemakers have become smaller and more durable. Up until recently, they have always involved at least one wire that goes through the vein to the inside of the heart. An option for "leadless" pacemakers (i.e., without wires) is now available, and Inova Heart & Vascular Institute was the first facility in Northern Virginia to offer that option.

A pacemaker is a small device whose main purpose is to prevent the heart from beating too slowly. The device stimulates the heart muscle when the heart rate is too slow or altogether absent.

Over time pacemakers have become smaller and more durable. Up until recently, they have always involved at least one wire that goes through the vein to the inside of the heart. An option for "leadless" pacemakers (i.e., without wires) is now available, and Inova Heart & Vascular Institute was the first facility in Northern Virginia to offer that option.

"Wireless" vs. Traditional Pacemaker

Particularly for patients with certain types of Atrial Fibrillation or ones with vascular access problems – stemming either from their anatomy or from a medical condition – leadless pacemakers offer a clear advance in technology. However, they are not appropriate in all cases. For instance, patients whose circumstances require dual chamber pacing will require use of a traditional pacemaker.

Micra Leadless Pacemaker

Micra is the first leadless pacemaker to obtain FDA approval. Manufactured by Medtronic, this device is completely self-contained within the heart. It is also 93% smaller than traditional pacemakers. As it is delivered via catheter directly into the right ventrical of the heart, there is no chest scar, no bump and results are showing fewer complications. It also offers a 12-year battery longevity.

 

Traditional Pacemaker

Traditional pacemakers consists of a pulse generator attached to between one and three leads (wires) that are inserted within the heart. The pulse generator contains a battery and a microchip. The battery (most commonly lithium-iodide) typically has a life span of 6-10 years depending on its use. The leads are inserted under the skin via veins into the heart's upper chamber (atrium) or lower chamber (ventricle). The procedure takes 1-2 hours to complete.

Which Pacemaker is Right for Me?

A determination on the appropriate type of pacemaker is best explored with a cardiologist or electrophysiologist familiar with your medical history.

Need a doctor? Find an Inova Heart & Vascular Institute pacemaker specialist 

Pacemaker vs. Defibrillator (ICD)

A pacemaker is not the same as an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). They look similar, but the pacemaker is slightly smaller. An ICD is also a device that monitors and moderates your heart rate, and it uses batteries to send electric signals to a heart that’s beating too slow. 

Inova's History and Expertise

Innovation and technology development for cardiac devices is not new to Inova; we participated in the pre-market evaluation for FDA approval of leadless pacemaker technology and have a long track record working with industry on the development of new cardiac-related devices and medications through participation in numerous clinical trials.

Conditions Treated with a Pacemaker

Inova Heart and Vascular physicians have the expertise to identify the patients who might benefit from pacemakers. They are most often recommended to those with the following conditions:

  • A symptomatic and slow heart rate, usually less than 60 beats per minute
  • Atrial fibrillation with a slow heart rate
  • Heart failure
  • Inability to increase the heart rate to match a level of exercise
  • Hyperthrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Fainting spells

Inova Heart and Vascular Institute physicians make sure pacemakers are programmed in ways the work for each person, depending on need. Two of the newer pacemakers that improve the function of the heart include are the atrioventricular and biventricular devices.

The atrioventricular devices stimulates both the atria and the ventricular chambers of the heart in a coordinated way to improve cardiac output. A biventricular device coordinates the contractions fo the left and right chambers of the ventricules creating heart resynchronization. This is reserved for patients with more severe symptoms of heart failure.

   

Our Team

As one of the country’s largest and most experienced centers offering heart rhythm devices, Inova Heart and Vascular Institute implants more than a thousand pacemakers each year. Our physicians have the knowledge and expertise needed to accurately diagnose and treat patients who might require pacemakers in fully equipped electrophysiology labs.

Pacemaker specialists at Inova

Stephen A. Gaeta, MD
Leonard Ilkhanoff, MD
Stanley A. Strickberger, MD
Mohammad Monireddin Ghazvini, MD
Vineet Kumar, MD
Athanasios Thomaides, MD
Chirag M. Sandesara, MD
Haroon Rashid, MD
James Duc, MD
Adam S. Fein, MD
Robert L. McSwain, MD
Susan O'Donoghue, MD
Zayd Adnan Eldadah, MD, PhD
Aysha Arshad, MD
Walter L. Atiga, MD
David A. Strouse, MD
Sarfraz A.K. Durrani, MD
Joseph C. Lee, MD
Denise L. Hurst, MD
Anthony C. Chang, MD
Marc H. Wish, MD

 

Meet Our Team

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