Pacemakers are shrinking. One of the newest is no bigger than a AAA battery.
Nina Korabelnikov is one of the first patients to get the tiny pacemaker, called nanostim. Comparing herself to Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human to venture into space, she is one of the first humans to make pacemaker history.
“So I don’t expect you to have any more of that dizziness or fainting or light headed spells or that racing you were having,”said electrophysiologist Steven Higgins.
The pacemaker goes up a vein in Korabelnikov’s groin all the way to her right ventricle, where like a space station it undocked to stay for the next nine to 18 years.
“About every 20 years or so we have a major advance like this in medicine,”said Higgins. “The Achilles’ heel for pacemakers forever has been this long lead that goes under the collar bone that gets injured, goes into the blood vessel, into the heart, moves with each heart beat, gets stressed and wears out long before the battery is due.”
No surgery means no two-inch incision, no scar and a quicker recovery.
“Many medical advances are hard to understand. But, you show them this little one versus the big one, which one do you want? People figure that out pretty quickly,” said Higgins.
The Nanostim is still undergoing clinical trials in the U.S., but it has already been approved for use in Europe.
Medtronics has developed miniature pacemaker that’s even smaller. The Micra TPS is about the size of a large vitamin.
It will be a few years before either version is commercially available.