Setting the pace: St. Joseph’s Medical Center unveils new cardiac technology

Joann Marks, MSN, RN, Director of Cardiovascular Services at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Medical Center, shows the size of the new Medtronic Micra TPS pacemaker in comparison to an ordinary office paperclip.

STOCKTON – A paperclip. That’s how big the latest device is that could save your life.

Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Medical Center recently introduced the Medtronic Micra Transcatheter Pacing System, a single-chamber pacemaker that can last up to 10 years depending on the need of the recipient.

Cyrus Buhari, MD, St. Joseph’s Heart and Vascular Institute’s interventional cardiologist has implanted the device into three patients thus far with positive results.

“The availability of this new pacemaker technology represents yet another step forward toward the goal of being able to offer cutting-edge cardiovascular care to patients who would otherwise be considered high-risk for traditional pacemaker implantation,” Dr. Buhari said.

St. Joseph’s is one of the very first hospitals to be approved to implement the groundbreaking pacemaker. One of the advances with this device is its compatibility with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines. Past pacemakers would be deactivated by MRI’s due to the magnetic interference.

Another positive is the size. Barely bigger than a multi-vitamin, the Micra TPS is inserted through a catheter inserted via the femoral vein (minimal scarring), and is attached to the inner wall of the right ventricle in the heart.

Patients won’t have the bulge or scar from a typical pacemaker that rest under the left pectoral muscle.

The Micra TPS is a light years from where pacemakers used to be. Invented in 1949, the original pacemakers weighed about a half of a pound. The Micra TPS weighs about the same as a penny. The originals were also four inches by two and a half inches.

Recovery time is also minimal. What used to take a few days, now takes about six hours of lying flat on one’s back after a 90-minute to two-hour surgery.

Marks uses a chart to show where the hospital’s new pacemaker would be placed and how it works.

“It monitors just like a regular lead. And when a beat is needed because there’s too much of a space between beats, it will produce a signal that will contract the muscle and create the heartbeat,” Joann Marks, MSN, RN, Director of Cardiovascular Services, said.

Prime candidates for the pacemaker are patients with bradycardia, a condition wherein the heartbeat is irregular or beats fewer than 60 times per minute. Dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath and other symptoms occur since the heart cannot pump enough blood.

This is one of a long line of advances St. Joseph’s has been able to introduce to patients over the years. The medical center has a history of being a leader in the cardiology field in the Central Valley. It was the first to offer an open-heart program about 42 years ago.

“St. Joseph’s has been able to stay at the forefront of things, providing services and working with physicians who want to stay at the forefront of medical advances as well,” Marks said. “There really isn’t anything we can’t provide for you.”



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