YOUR HEALTH: World’s tiniest Pacemaker now used by teenage boy

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NEW YORK CITY – Bundle branch block is a congenital heart condition that causes the electrical impulses in the heart to misfire.

People with the condition often need a pacemaker to keep their hearts in sync.

Now, cardiologists at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York are using a recently approved tiny wireless device in kids, so they don’t miss a beat.

The Anthony family loves a good adventure: sand-sledding in New Mexico or strapped into a thrill ride.

They try not to let anything slow them down, not even congenital heart disease.

Three of the Anthony’s four children have a condition that blocks the pathway that sends electrical impulses to the heart.

Father, Al Anthony said, “At nine years old my first son, now he’s almost 19, so now he had his second pacemaker put in.”

Five days later, 16-year-old Sam got his first pacemaker.

Sam Anthony shared, “The next day I was able to fully walk around and do everything and I felt fine.”

Two sons, two pacemakers, over five days.

But for Sam, cardiologists were able to implant this tiny wireless pacemaker, approved in 2016 but used now in a handful of kids.

Barry Love M.D, a pediatric cardiologist at The Mount Sinai Hospital inserted the Micra pacemaker by threading a catheter through a vein.

NEW TECHNOLOGY:   A clinical trial investigating the use of a stimulation device, named a Barostim, is underway.   When the body is activated and the heart is working harder, neurohormones are released.   The Barostim blocks some of these pathways, helping the heart relax and function better on its own.   By placing the device directly on the artery there is a receptor that tells the heart to relax by lowering what is referred to as sympathetic activity.   "Think of it like this, under a period of stress your adrenalin levels get activated. And that's a normal adaptive response, except when you have heart failure, adrenalin activation all the time can be a bad thing and cause the heart, which is already diseased, to work that much harder.  So this device shuts that whole pathway down so the heart can relax and become more functional," said Dr. Barry Love.

Dr. Love said, “This pacemaker is entirely contained in the heart itself and because of that he’ll be able to participate in sports and activities with really minimal to no restrictions.”

Among other things, Sam’s looking forward to getting back to the ballfield and more family vacations.

Sam’s mother, Lori Anthony, said: “We kinda don’t let it bother us. We travel a lot, and do crazy fun stuff, and try not to worry about the little stuff.”

The Anthony’s say their youngest son, who is 13, does not have the genetic heart condition, but their seven-year old daughter may have it, and may need back up “pacing” from a device in the future.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.

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