Emory physicians use new pacemaker to stimulate both sides of the heart

January 30, 2000

Renewed life from mature technology: Emory doctors use a new type of pacemaker to dramatically improve the health of the seriously ill

A new type of pacemaker that stimulates both sides of the heart has greatly improved the quality of life of its recipients, and, in some cases, has eliminated the need for a heart transplant.

Doctors at Emory University are using a bi-ventricular pacemaker that connects to both ventricles of the heart, instead of only one, to treat congestive heart failure -- with impressive results. People who previously depended on intravenous drugs to keep their hearts going, who couldn't so much as walk around the house without getting winded, now are able to discontinue medication and enjoy normal daily activities.

"It's the most dramatic treatment I've seen in cardiology in the last decade," said Jonathan Langberg, M.D., professor of Medicine and director of Cardiac Electrophysiology at Emory University. Langberg is studying various versions of the bi-ventricular pacemaker along with Andy Smith, M.D., a cardiologist who is director of Emory's Center for Heart Failure Therapy, and electrophysiologists Angel Leon, M.D. and Dave DeLurgio, M.D., both of whom practice at Emory's Crawford Long Hospital. The pacemakers being studied are manufactured by Guidant, Medtronic and Pacesetter.

Traditional cardiac pacemakers use one electrical lead to prevent the heart from pausing or beating too slowly. People with congestive heart failure have more serious problems, however; their heart muscle is weak and the electrical system that regulates the heart is damaged. As a result, the ventricles, the chambers of the heart that pump blood into the lungs or the rest of the body, do not contract in sync, and the force of the heart's pumping action is greatly lessened.

The bi-ventricular pacemaker sends electric impulses to both ventricles, coordinating their pumping action and making the heart more efficient. A modified version of the bi-ventricular pacemaker, the implantable cardiac defibrillator, not only paces the heart but can actually restart it if it goes into arrest. The ICD is used in people at risk of developing life-threatening heart arrhythmia.

Emory doctors have implanted the device in 50 patients at Emory University Hospital and Crawford Long Hospital, with excellent results. One of Dr. Langberg's patients, a woman who previously required an electric wheelchair because of her seriously weak heart, now walks two miles a day.

"It's hard to describe how gratifying it is to see these patients get their lives back," Dr. Langberg said. "These patients, by and large, have been treated with the best medications that we have, and despite that, have disabling symptoms. Other than continuing their limited existence with the best medicines we have, the only other alternative is heart transplant. So this offers an important option to people who otherwise don't have many options."

Implantation of the bi-ventricular pacemaker requires two to three hours of surgery and a 24-hour hospital stay, Dr. Langberg said.

Emory University Health Sciences Center

Related Pacemaker Articles from Brightsurf:

No need to steer clear of electric cars if you have a pacemaker
A study published in Technology and Health Care shows that four leading brands of e-cars do not trigger electromagnetic interference (EMI) with cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIED).

Developing next-generation biologic pacemakers
University of Houston associate professor of pharmacology Bradley McConnell is helping usher in a new age of cardiac pacemakers by using stem cells found in fat, converting them to heart cells, and reprogramming those to act as biologic pacemaker cells.

U of T Mississauga study identifies 'master pacemaker' for biological clocks
What makes a biological clock tick? According to a new study from U of T Mississauga, the surprising answer lies with a gene typically associated with stem and cancer cells.

Powering a pacemaker with a patient's heartbeat
Implantable pacemakers have without doubt altered modern medicine, saving countless lives by regulating heart rhythm.

Wireless 'pacemaker for the brain' could offer new treatment for neurological disorders
A new neurostimulator developed by engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, can listen to and stimulate electric current in the brain at the same time, potentially delivering fine-tuned treatments to patients with diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson's.

Cleveland clinic- led study shows leadless pacemaker patients experience less complications
Patients receiving leadless pacemakers experience overall fewer short-term and mid-term complications than those receiving traditional transvenous pacemakers, a Cleveland Clinic-led research study found.

What is impact of permanent pacemaker implantation after transcatheter aortic valve replacement?
The need for a patient to have a permanent pacemaker implanted while hospitalized after undergoing a transcatheter aortic valve replacement is a complication associated with worse survival and increased risk of more time spent in the hospital then and in the future.

Ohio State study of brain pacemaker shows promise in slowing decline of Alzheimer's
Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center studied how using an implant -- likened to a pacemaker for the brain -- could help Alzheimer's patients to retain cognitive, behavioral and functional abilities longer while also improving quality of life.

Bacteria as pacemaker for the intestine
For the first time, a research team from the Cell and Developmental Biology (Bosch AG) working group at the Zoological Institute at Kiel University (CAU) has been able to prove that the bacterial colonisation of the intestine plays an important role in controlling peristaltic functions.

Mexican doctors safely reuse donated pacemakers after sterilisation
Mexican doctors have safely reused donated pacemakers after sterilisation, shows a study presented at the 30th Mexican Congress of Cardiology.

Read More: Pacemaker News and Pacemaker Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.