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Mon Health cardiologists install first dual-chamber leadless pacemaker in West Virginia

MORGANTOWN — On May 20, two Mon Health Heart & Vascular cardiologists performed the state’s first implant of the next-generation pacemaker system.

It’s called the AVEIR DR, made by Abbott, and is the first dual-chamber leadless system.

“This is revolutionary technology,” said Dr. Salam Sbaity, who led the procedure along with Dr. Matthew Gaskill at Mon Health Medical Center. “It’s going to hold the future of pacemaker therapy. I think eventually everything will in be this miniaturized technology.”

Pacemakers have been in use for 70 years, Sbaity said.

Submitted image, comparing the size of the two devices to a AAA battery.

Sbaity and Abbott’s pacemaker material explain that traditional pacemakers are surgically implanted in a pocket in the chest area. Flexible leads run from the pacemaker to the heart. When the pacemaker senses a missed or slowed heartbeat, it conveys an electrical impulse to the heart to restore normal rhythm.

A leadless pacemaker is installed directly into the heart via catheter and requires no wires or chest incision or pocket.

The traditional pacemaker is subject to complications, Sbaity said, among them, infection and wear-and-tear on the leads that can lead to breakage. When infection occurs, the whole system has to come out, which is more difficult than installing it because it has be cut out with lasers — a high-morbidity procedure.

With the leadless pacemaker, there are no scars and no arm-movement restrictions, he said.

Leadless single-chamber pacemakers have been offered since 2016, Sbaity said, made by Abbott and another company. They go into the lower-right chamber — the right ventricle. But they help only 20% of patients who need pacemakers.

Abbott’s dual-chamber system provides this right-ventricle pacemaker, the AVEIR VR, plus one for the upper eight chamber — the right atrium — called the AVEIR AR.

This opens the door for treatment of the 80% of patients who need dual-chamber pacing, Sbaity said. “This will be life-saving for them.”

The two devices synchronize their pacing by continuously interacting with each other with each heartbeat, he said, communicating via conductive telemetry conveyed through electrical impulses through the blood. This technology requires less energy drain on the battery than WiFi communication would.

Since that first procedure on May 20, he said, they’ve placed several more in other patients.

“I think it will gradually take over the traditional pacing system,” he said, as the technology continues to improve.

“We are really excited that we will be offering it to our patients in West Virginia,” he said. “It’s going to benefit, we think, a lot of people.”


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