Calgary Becomes Training Center For New Miniaturized Pacemaker: ‘Game Changer’ |

A new innovative miniaturized pacemakerdeveloped in part by a Calgary cardiologisthas received approval for use in patients beyond the clinical investigation stage.

He Foothills Medical Center in Calgary it will also become a training center for doctors to provide the technology to future patients.

A pacemaker prevents a person’s heartbeat from beating too slowly and helps regulate heart rhythm by sending a tiny electrical signal to the heart, causing it to beat.

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The new device is lead-free, meaning it doesn’t have wires connecting it to a person’s bloodstream and then to their heart. It received approval from Health Canada last year.

“The approval is a game changer in cardiovascular care and better care for Canadians,” said Dr. Derek Exner, a cardiologist and heart rhythm specialist. He is also Associate Dean for Innovation and Commercialization at the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine.

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“It allows Canadians to access this new pacemaker technology, and that means a better quality of life.”

The first implantation of the leadless pacemaker took place in Calgary in November 2020.

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Exner led Canadian and Australian teams involved in a decade-long international study and clinical trials evaluating the effectiveness of the devices. Foothills Medical Center was one of 55 locations worldwide, including three in Canada.

The leadless pacemaker is about 1.5 inches long, which is less than the size of a AAA battery.

Exner said it’s easier to implant and replace, and has a battery life of more than 15 years. It is inserted through a small incision in the groin and guided into the lower right heart chamber.

“Patients forget they have a pacemaker,” he said.

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“It’s really rewarding, taking the device from a place where it’s a little inconvenient to a place where they forget they have it.”

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