NEWMARKET, Ont. – Patients suffering from lightheadedness, shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, fainting or near-fainting spells – often a result of a heart rate that is too slow – may now have some freedom from their condition, thanks to a new procedure being performed at Southlake Regional Health Centre. The Newmarket-based hospital recently became one of a select few in Canada to implant a revolutionary miniature pacemaker that is smaller than a AAA battery.
The Nanostim leadless pacemaker is similar to a conventional cardiac pacemaker in that it sends electrical pulses to the heart to restore and resume its natural rhythm. What sets the Nanostim apart, however, is its miniature size, design and how it works – it is designed to be placed directly into the patient’s heart through a small puncture in the groin. Without the need for surgery and without the visible lump, scar, and insulated wires – or leads – that come with a standard device, the Nanostim is the world’s first leadless and non-surgical pacemaker.
According to Dr. Bernice Tsang, cardiologist at Southlake, conventional pacemakers can improve a patient’s quality of life and may even prolong it. Yet, even so, physicians and patients have long been asking for a device that doesn’t require wires that may fail or become dislodged, or an unsightly pocket in the chest that may restrict mobility or become infected.
“For patients with a conventional pacemaker, it can be quite disheartening and frustrating to be told to limit physical activity because the lead on their device may fall out of place, said Dr. Tsang. “As a physician, I’m truly excited about what the Nanostim means for my patients – no restrictions on physical activity, less discomfort, and no risk of surgical infection.”
The Nanostim leadless pacemaker implant at Southlake took place in late-September as part of the LEADLESS II study, an international clinical study designed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the Nanostim device in patients who are appropriate to receive the new technology. The study is expected to enroll approximately 670 patients at 50 hospitals around the world.
The Regional Cardiac Care Program at Southlake – the collective mastermind behind the adoption of the Nanostim leadless pacemaker at the Hospital – is no stranger to the latest and most cutting-edge innovations, research, and advancements in healthcare technology. As the third largest of its kind in Ontario, the Program is constantly looking for new and better solutions to improve the care delivered to its patients.
“As a program committed to providing our patients with the absolute best cardiac care the system has to offer, we’re never quite satisfied with the status quo,” said Dr. David Fell, vice president of patient experiences for the cardiac program. “We have a responsibility to our patients, our community, and one another to be at the forefront of new innovations in the delivery of cardiac care, and we will always be looking for the next best thing if it means improved outcomes for our patients.”
Not all patients are eligible to receive the Nanostim leadless pacemaker as part of the LEADLESS II study. For more information on the device and the procedure, and to learn about eligibility criteria, please contact Sherri Patterson in the Heart Rhythm Program – an arm of the larger Cardiac Program – at 905-895-4521, ext. 2149.
About the Regional Cardiac Care Program
The Regional Cardiac Care Program at Southlake recently celebrated 10 years of excellence in cardiac innovation and treatment. As the third largest program in Ontario, the talented team of healthcare professionals has transformed 100,000 lives by providing patients with advanced cardiac services and state-of-the-art, internationally renowned treatment, closer to home. The Program services patients from three Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) – Central, Central West, and North Simcoe Muskoka, has the largest electrophysiology and complex ablation program in Canada, and completed close to 12,000 advanced cardiac procedures in 2013-14.