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First U.S. Patients to receive Leadless Pacemaker

Local Couple First U.S. Patients to Receive Leadless Pacemaker

A couple are the first patients to be implanted with a leadless kind of pacemaker that may revolutionize the way heart disease is treated.

“Well, I was a little hesitant. I thought, boy, what does this entail? But, it was so simple,” said Lakewood resident Catherine McLaughlin, who had the device installed in January. Her husband, Jack, had it installed a month earlier. Both are responding very well.

The device is one-tenth the size of traditional pacemakers, and it’s leadless, meaning it doesn’t need a cable or wire to be screwed into the heart.

“Everything is self-contained in one unit, meaning this entire pacemaker [holds up traditional pacemaker] into here [holds up new, smaller pacemaker],” said Raj Banker, a cardiac electrophysiologist who installed it in the McLaughlins as part of a clinical trial at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach. “Patients don’t even know they have this pacemaker on the right here when they come in for follow-up. It’s so small, not obtrusive, there’s no incision, there’s nothing to feel on the outside of their body, and the recovery time is so short.”

Banker put the new pacemaker in Catherine McLaughlin’s heart after discovering that there were periods when her heart stopped completely. He decided to install it in Jack McLaughlin’s heart after learning it had slowed. “It was only 4 percent working.”

Depending on how often the device is forced to work, the pacemaker can last 12 to 20 years.