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Heart Health

20 June 2018

Cape Town woman receives benchmark pacemaker

The latest pacemaker technology boasts more dynamic features for resynchronising the heart.

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CAPE TOWN – An 84-year-old woman is the recipient of the latest pacemaker technology.

Ramona Burger had the new device, known as “His Bundle Pacing” (HBP), inserted by Dr Razeen Gopal, a cardiac electrophysiologist, at Mediclinic Panorama.

Having a heart with an irregular rhythm, specifically an extremely slow rate, can be life-threatening for older people.

Many people who have the condition have a little device – called a pacemaker – embedded by cardiologists to help regulate the rhythm of their heart.

The need for a pacemaker is often due to a heart block, where the channels between the upper and lower chambers of the heart are partially or completely blocked.

Strong, synchronised contractions

In a statement issued by the hospital, Gopal said that he regards HBP as the pacemaker procedure of the future because it is the first technique which involves direct stimulation of the heart's own conduction tissue, which leads to synchronised, strong contractions of both ventricles, and thus better heart function.

Gopal said, "In future, we will refer to HBP as the 'regaining of synchronous contraction', which is a step beyond mere pacing. The procedures for Mrs Burger and the other five patients that were operated on during the first series in Cape Town were successful.

"The patients feel more energetic and are all expected to experience a better quality of life due to more efficient cardiac output."

In theatre, even before the 20-minute procedure is completed, the ECG-monitor indicates how the weak heart’s elongated ECG (electrocardiograph) has changed to a physiologically normal ECG, indicating that both ventricles contract synchronously and effectively like a normal heart.

This cannot not be achieved with a traditional pacemaker.

Image credit: iStock