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World’s tiniest pacemaker implanted in RI man, making him 1st in the state

The world’s tiniest pacemaker was successfully implanted in a Rhode Island man, making him the first in the state. (WJAR) 

The world’s tiniest pacemaker was successfully implanted in a Rhode Island man, making him the first in the state.

Bill Garland, 86, of Cumberland, has had a history of heart problems.

"I've had four heart attacks,"he said, also noting that he had an abnormal heart rhythm. "I've had some instances of fainting," he recalled. "I fainted in the tub when taking a shower and this happened in public, in the supermarket."

That's when he visited Rhode Island Hospital cardiologist Dr. Antony Chu.

"He had one chamber that needed to be paced,” said Chu. “His heart rate was too low."

Chu had something new to offer him. The world's smallest, leadless pacemaker. It’s one-tenth of the size of the traditional pacemaker and has no leads, or wires.

Unlike current pacemakers, a device is not surgically implanted in the chest with multiple wires placed inside the heart.

The new device, which is about the size of nickel, is all in one.

"What happens is we are able to implant minimally invasively through a site in the hip area, a blood vessel that goes up in the heart, and this device then basically sits in this chamber of the heart," said Chu.

Chu said the smaller pacemaker does exactly what the larger device with wires is able to do. But, he said, for those who qualify, it’s even better.

"In a number of different clinical trials, it's been shown that this technology is actually safer, not just with the deployment of the technique, but also long term because many of the complications that happen around surgery for traditional pacemakers occur related to the lead placement and or the surgical incision site," said Chu.

Garland had his pacemaker implanted Aug. 2, the day after his 86th birthday.

"And it seems to have done the job,” he said.

Micra is the only leadless pacemaker approved for use in the U.S.

Charlton Hospital in Fall River first implanted the device late last year, months after it was FDA approved.

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