Einstein Heart Doctors Pilot Wireless Pacemaker
The cardiologist was worried. His patient had a potentially dangerous heart arrythmia and needed a pacemaker. But the patient also had a leaky heart valve and the wires of a pacemaker would thread through the valve and make the leaking worse. A pacemaker, a heart implant that regulates the heartbeat, connects through wires to a small generator placed beneath the skin near the shoulder.
Sumeet Mainigi, MD, had a solution: his team at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia had been trained in the use of a relatively new pacemaker that that has a self-contained battery and no wires. It’s small – the weight of a penny and the size of a large vitamin, as described by Medtronic, the manufacturer – and is implanted directly into the heart through a catheter.
The patient was a perfect candidate for Einstein’s first use of the technology.
Dr. Mainigi, an electrophysiologist and Interim Chairman of Cardiology at Einstein, implanted the tiny device into the patient last month and “it went great.”
The pacemaker is another in an ever-expanding arsenal of advanced technologies adopted by Einstein cardiologists in their commitment to providing cutting edge treatment of heart disorders. Einstein is often among the first in the region to offer new options – from an advanced defibrillator to a medicated stent to a robotic arm that assists catheterization procedures – and is distinguished by its embrace of innovation.
“We are vigilant about adopting new techniques and technologies that lower risk and enhance benefit for our patients,” Dr. Mainigi said. “We’re always seeking evidence-based therapies that are safer, less invasive and equally, if not more, effective.”
Two other technologies Einstein is poised to deploy will help diagnose and treat two other common and deadly conditions: heart failure and coronary artery disease. One is a “vest” that measures fluid in the lungs of a heart failure patient; and the other is the first non-invasive method to determine whether a patient has significant enough coronary artery blockage to need a stent. Einstein will be among the first hospitals in the region to use these technologies.
Dr. Behnam Bozorgnia, director of the Advanced Heart Failure Program, obtained a grant from the Albert Einstein Society to buy the Remote Dielectric Sensing vest (ReDS ™), which detects fluid accumulation in the lungs even before a heart failure patient begins to develop symptoms. The vest measures lung fluid in 90 seconds through electromagnetic technology. When fluid build-up is caught early, a practitioner can modify medical therapy and prevent a patient from needing emergency treatment or hospitalization. “It provides accurate and actionable measurements and ‘anywhere, anytime peace of mind’ to patients and clinicians,’ Dr. Bozorgnia said.
Dr. Leandro N. Slipczuk, Director of Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging, is set to inaugurate the first non-invasive test to measure the impact that a coronary artery blockage has on blood flow using data from a standard CT scan. The new software program creates an individual model of a patient’s coronary arteries. HeartFlow, a medical company, applies fluid dynamics technology used in aeronautics to measure whether blood flow is diminished enough by a clogged artery to require a stent, Dr. Slipczuk said. The procedure is called CT-derived fraction flow reserve (FFRCT). The gold standard assessment for blood flow has traditionally been through a cardiac catheterization, an invasive procedure that requires the insertion of a wire into the coronary arteries. The new technology has shown to decrease unnecessary procedures and cost while improving patients’ experience.
“It’s a goal of our institution to bring cutting edge technology that focuses on patient safety,” Dr. Slipczuk said.