Baptist first in Fla. to use world's smallest pacemaker

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville is Florida's first hospital to implant the world's smallest wireless pacemaker.

The hospital is one of 50 in the U.S. using the new leadless pacemaker as part of a clinical trial, which is still enrolling patients over the next six months.

The new pacemaker is one-tenth the size of a conventional pacemaker and weighs less than a small coin. It's comparable in size to a large vitamin and is placed directly into the right ventricle of the heart through a catheter inserted in the femoral vein.

David Bussey has the new pacemaker and went to Baptist Medical Center South for his first checkup since surgery.

"So far really doing good. Doctors and nurses have been real good. I appreciate the help," said Bussey, the first patient in Florida to have the pacemaker.

Bussey said his heart problems kept him from gardening.

"I had some trouble with my heartbeat off beat," he said.

Now he's back in the garden.

The reason why doctors say the small pacemaker is better is, it doesn't require wires to connect to the heart.

"The main advantages are -- is No. 1, a lot of patients with pacemakers are at risk for breaking their wires. That's the weakest link in the pacemaker," said Dr. Venkata Sagi, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Baptist.

In contrast to the traditional pacemaker implant procedures, this implant does not require a surgical incision in the chest and the creation of a "pocket" under the skin.

It eliminates a potential source of complications and any visible sign of the device.

"This has not been approved by the (Food and Drug Administration)," Sagi said. "Patients will be enrolled in a clinical trial, which means patients have to meet certain requirements."

Doctors at Baptist say so far they've given four patients the new device and are looking for more.

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