Wireless Pacemakers Provide 24/7 Heart Monitoring
Floyd Edminston received a wireless pacemaker at WFBMC.
Floyd Edminston thought the battery in his blood pressure monitor was wearing down when the monitor showed his heart rate was 34 beats per minute.
But he felt like he was going to pass out, so he headed to Wilkes General Hospital. He was transferred to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where his heartbeat was recorded as low as 23 beats a minute.
At the Heart Center, the 82-year-old Moravian Falls man became one of the first people in the country implanted with a wireless pacemaker. Rick Henderson, MD, who implanted Edminston’s wireless pacemaker, is a Heart Center cardiac electrophysiologist, a cardiologist with specialty training in the mechanism, function and performance of the heart’s electrical activities.
“The new device reports diagnostic information 24 hours a day. Being able to detect problems sooner may help protect the patient from a heart attack or stroke,” Henderson said.
Pacemaker patients come to the Heart Center’s device clinic every few months to have their pacemakers interrogated — checked for recorded arrhythmia or other problems. “The wireless device is set to report back to us any abnormalities,” Henderson said. “For example, if a patient is having regular heart rhythm, but is having atrial fibrillation every now and then, the device will pick it up sooner and send the information through a transmitter to the device clinic.”
Wireless pacemakers are ideal for people who live far from medical centers, and that will be a factor in who receives the device, Henderson said.
Edminston’s home is an hour’s drive from Winston-Salem. Now he comes to Wake Forest Baptist every six months rather than the usual three months, and his pacemaker sends reports directly to the device clinic.
“It sends information and you don’t have to do a thing,” Edminston said.
Keeping Pace with Pacemakers
- More than three million people worldwide are estimated to have pacemakers, with about 600,000 more implanted annually. Pacemakers send electrical impulses to the heart so it beats regularly. All include some type of transtelephonic monitoring system to send data over a phone line if needed.
- Three types of wireless pacemaker include: a single-chamber model that enters the right ventricle; a double-chamber version that enters the right ventricle and atria; and a version for heart failure patients that enters the right ventricle, left ventricle and artery.
- Electrophysiologist Rick Henderson, MD, expects use of wireless pacemakers to increase and to include designs such as “leadless” devices in which the pacemaker does not enter the vascular system and wireless devices that could monitor blood pressure.
From BestHealth, January 2010
A Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center publication