Healthwise: Radio-Frequency Pacemaker -- October 7th

By: Cheryn Stone Email
By: Cheryn Stone Email

October 8, 2009

Martha Jefferson is the first hospital in central Virginia to implant a radio-frequency pacemaker. The new device allows doctors to more easily monitor a patient's heart rhythm. In this week's Martha Jefferson Healthwise, Cheryn Stone got a closer look at how the new device is going to make care more convenient.

Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology, Dr. John Zakaib joined Cheryn Stone to explain the purpose of the pacemaker. Dr. Zakaib says the pacemaker is leading the way for a broader application of this type of technology.

Dr. Zakaib: A pacemaker is a small electronic device which can be implanted under the skin in a patient who has problems with the electrical systems in their heart. The device can provide a steady and reliable heart rhythm for patients who have slow heart rhythms or fainting spells or other electrical problems with their heart.

Cheryn: Can you explain the difference between a regular pacemaker and this radio-frequency pacemaker?

Dr. Zakaib: The innovation with the radio-frequency pacemaker is the ability to communicate with the device, remotely from a distance. That makes communication with the device more simple for the patient and certainly more facile for the physician and device clinic as well. Essentially what we will do is create an incision in the skin under local anesthetic and conscious sedation and sterile conditions and then create a pocket for the device under the skin. Wires will be implanted through a vein that runs under the collar bone. Those wires can be steered through the veins down to the heart.

Dr. Zakaib: I think this is a leading edge technology device which will be implanted more frequently in the future and will assist us in the management of patients with arrhythmia and unsteady heart rhythms, as well as assist us in the ongoing management of patients in the device clinic.

*Click on the video tab to learn more about the pacemaker and watch the full interview with Dr. Zakaib*

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