YOUR HEALTH: A Pacemaker without the wires

PLANO, Texas – Defibrillating pacemakers are typically implanted in and around the heart using wires to transport electrical signals.  But when a patient's heart can't handle the wires, there can be significant problems.

48-year old Angela Tasby has been having heart problems since 2013.

Last year, efforts to attach a defibrillator failed because her blood vessels were too small for the electrical leads.

She was facing a possible heart transplant.

Today, she is on the road to recovery, because of a chip the size of a grain of rice that uses wireless technology to keep both sides of her heart pumping in synch.

"It's a blessing, so you don't have any wires hanging off you or anything. Everything is wireless and you can continue with your daily life."

Now, there is a wireless or WiSE CRT treatment that is making a huge difference for some patients.

"It is the first device along the way to provide this sort of therapy without having to depend on leads that are mechanical devices that can fail," explained Dr. Brian DeVille, electrophysiologist at Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital.

When the device senses the pulsing impulse from the defibrillator, it sends an ultrasound signal that is picked up by the chip.

In Tasby's case, it was in her left ventricle and this allowed signals in both ventricles firing at the same time.

Dr. DeVille confirms that the wireless cardiac resynchronization therapy study saved Angela from open chest surgery.

"So the device is doing fantastic, and most importantly you are doing fantastic," he told her after a recent examination.

"I did not look like this at first and you can ask my family and my doctors," said Tasby.

"It's a miracle, a blessing."

SOLVE CRT TRIAL:  In approximately 30% of potential candidates, the lead placed on the left ventricle fails to work, usually due to unfavorable vein anatomy, unacceptable phrenic nerve stimulation when activated, or pacing thresholds too high to stimulate the heart effectively.   Through the SOLVE CRT trial, investigators will evaluate a new implantable cardiac system that provides left ventricular endocardial pacing stimulation in conjunction with a previously placed traditional pacemaker, defibrillator, or CRT device with a nonfunctional left ventricular lead.

Clinical trials are on-going for the WiSE CRT treatment.

Not only did the device save Tasby from an open chest surgical procedure, all episodes of heart failure have been completely eliminated.

She and her husband are now planning a vacation they never thought they would take.

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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