Medtronic Gets OK to Sell Next Generation of Pacemakers That Fit Inside the Heart

  • The developer of the first pacemaker, Medtronic, has created a new version of a pacemaker that attaches directly to the lower chamber of the heart and runs on battery power. It is considered a minimally invasive pacer. The FDA has approved the release of the small device called the Micra AV, and it is a second generation of a device that was developed several years ago. One of the primary benefits of the Micra AV pacemaker is that it can be installed by way of the blood vessels. Since it does not require lead wires, there are a fewer number of complications from installing the little device, which is about the size of a capsule. Once in the heart, four small hooks attach to the lower chamber of the heart. The new version of the Micra AV also detects whether the upper chamber of the heart is beating.

There is some debate about which patients will benefit from this new generation. With roughly 200,000 Americans having pacemakers installed every year, not all of them will benefit from the Micra AV.  These are some of benefits of the new pacemaker.

  • It reduces the number of patients who have complications from the surgery for placement of traditional pacemakers (a study found 63% fewer complications than with  traditional pacemakers.
  • The operation can be done on an outpatient basis.
  • People can return to their regular schedule without a long delay after the pacemaker is installed in the heart.

However, there have been some problems with the small device as well.

  • The older version of the Micra AV primarily only works for a single chamber, which includes a much smaller percentage of people who need pacemakers (15%). However the new version is applicable for at least 55% of pacemaker patients because it monitors the upper chamber of the heart as well.
  • The battery life is 10 years, and there currently is not an easy way to remove the pacemaker. A second one can be inserted alongside the old one, but the company is working on finding a way to remove the device.
  • It does not provide 100% synchronization. At the moment its synchronization rate is 70%.

For more details, check out Medtronic Gets OK to Sell Next Generation of Pacemakers That Fit Inside the Heart.

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