A new medical device about the size of a large vitamin and as lightweight as a penny is changing the face of cardiac care for patients with an irregular heartbeat.
Dubbed the “world’s smallest pacemaker,” the Micra is about one-tenth the size of a conventional pacemaker and delivers electrical pulses to the heart directly without leads. Four tiny tines anchor the Micra in place and its battery will last up to 12 years. Micra placement is minimally invasive and is inserted into the heart’s right ventricle through a vein in the patient’s groin.
Pacemakers, including the Micra, were designed to treat a condition known as bradycardia, in which the heart beats too slowly or in an irregular rhythm. Patients with bradycardia often suffer dizziness, fatigue and other symptoms because the heart is unable to pump enough oxygenated blood throughout the body. The pacemaker’s electrical pulse regulates the heart’s rhythm, restoring a normal heart rate.
The Micra’s size makes having the implant device more comfortable for the patient and the lack of leads, or wires that conventional pacemakers use to carry electronic impulses to the heart, means the device carries less risk, with fewer complications.
The Micra was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in April 2016.