The University of New Mexico Hospital is now offering the world’s smallest pacemaker.

This new pacemaker, called the Micra Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS), is about the size of a vitamin pill and uses single chamber technology to treat patients with bradycardia.

According to the Mayo Clinic, bradycardia occurs when a person’s heart rate is slower than normal. The typical adult heart rate is about 60 to 100 beats per minute, while the heart rate of a person with bradycardia is less than 60 beats per minute. This is problematic because it can prevent a person from receiving enough oxygen.



According to Amy Ruane, unit director for the cardiac catheterization laboratory, at the time of publication, two patients at UNMH has received this device.

She said this pacemaker is recommended for patients that are at a high risk for infection, or who are immunocompromised. This technology makes it possible for patients who did not previously qualify for a pacemaker to now receive one.

“There’s a whole group of patients that never qualified for a pacemaker in the first place due to high risk for infection, or just their anatomy,” Ruane said. “This particular type of pacemaker is certainly an option for them now.”

Ruane said traditional pacemakers take about an hour and a half to implant, while the Micra TPS only takes about 22 minutes. The recovery time is also shorter, allowing patients to begin walking and moving around within a couple of hours of implantation. She said traditional pacemakers require more recovery time and make it difficult for patients to return to living their normal lives.

“The neat part about it is that, now that we have this technology, we don’t have to turn patients away or transfer them to other facilities, we can take care of them here,” Ruane said.

Ruane said UNMH anticipates on doing 8 to 10 of these procedures per year, adding this technology will allow the hospital to treat more patients.

“When we do a typical pacemaker, they’re not allowed to lift the arm on the side that we put the pacer in for a couple of days, because we don't want to dislodge the ledes,” she said “They can have pain at the incision site, they can have swelling at the incision site, they have to come back within a week to have the incision site checked. They have to wear a bandage over it and they aren’t allowed to get it wet. It really does interrupt their normal life.”

Ruane said this is not the case with the new pacemaker.

“With the Micra pacemaker, it’s just a small suture in that vein and they are up and walking with a couple hours and can essentially go back to living their lives very quickly,” she said.

Mikhaela Smith is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @MikhaelaSmith18.