CINCINNATI—UC Health electrophysiologists were the first in the Greater Cincinnati area to implant a smaller, longer-lasting pacemaker, recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), earlier this month.
Robert Emerson, 63, of Delhi Township, was implanted with the Evia pacemaker, the smallest wireless remote monitoring pacemaker made by BIOTRONIK, by Alexandru Costea, MD, an electrophysiologist at UC Health University Hospital.
"This device is tiny, just a little bigger than a quarter, and has a battery life of more than a decade,” Costea explains. "It is the smallest pacemaker available with fully integrated home-monitoring, allowing physician collaboration for care of the patient regardless of his or her location.
"Mr. Emerson can travel, spend time with his family and live a normal life—all thanks to this device.”
A pacemaker is a medical device that uses electrical impulses, delivered by electrodes contracting the heart muscles to regulate the beating of the heart. The primary purpose of a pacemaker is to maintain an adequate heart rate, either because the heart's natural pacemaker is not fast enough or there is a block in the heart's electrical conduction system.
The home monitoring system, built into the Evia pacemaker, will allow 24-hour access to information regarding the patient’s heart and pacing system and uses mobile cellular communications to send daily status checks, early warnings and other vital data to the physician.
Costea was looking primarily at how the device could be used for patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, which Emerson has.
Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation is a condition in which an irregular heart rhythm occurs periodically. The heart returns to its normal rhythm on its own in a few minutes, hours or days. People who have this type of atrial fibrillation may have episodes every day or only a few times a year. When these episodes begin and end is usually unpredictable, which can be very unsettling.
"The device notifies my practice immediately if a patient is experiencing atrial fibrillation which allows me to treat it more promptly, instead of three months later when the patient is feeling poorly or when they come in for a clinic appointment,” Costea says.
Emerson, who has a family history of heart problems and experienced a heart attack four years ago, says his first and second episodes of abnormal cardiac activity, causing him to pass out, occurred in church earlier this summer.
The atrial fibrillation occurred in late July, as he and his wife, Kathy, were caring for his grandchildren.
"I was wearing an event monitor, which records my heart activity and alerts medical staff if my heart rate becomes too slow,” he says. "I received a call from them, but I continued to feel bad. I told Kathy to call 911.”
The following week, Emerson received the pacemaker.
"Compared to how I felt before, this device is making a world of difference,” he says. "I’m finally starting to feel like myself again.”
BIOTRONIK, Inc. is the maker of the Evia pacemaker. Costea does not cite any conflict of interest with the company but is conducting research involving one of their devices.