Doonside resident Heather Schevenhoven has received the best birthday present – a life-changing western Sydney-first medical procedure.
Heather was the first patient ever at Blacktown Hospital and Western Sydney Local Health District to receive a leadless pacemaker, a state-of-the-art device that is attached directly to the heart wall – without the need for thin wires or leads.
The pacemaker, which is the size of a large vitamin and weighs less than a coin, does not require the creation of a surgical “pocket” under the skin, reducing complications and infection risks and slashing recovery time.
Heather had the device inserted on her 74th birthday, describing it as “life-changing.”
“It’s really going to make a world of difference for me,” she said.
“I couldn’t even walk to the front door before without getting puffed and having to sit down; after the operation, I took a walk up the hall and I felt great; I’ve been given a new lease on life.”
Pacemaker therapy is the most common way to treat bradycardia or a slow/irregular heart rhythm.
When the heart beats too slowly, it is not able to pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the body.
The leadless pacemaker monitors the heart and sends tiny electrical impulses via an electrode to pace it when the rhythm is too slow, restoring it to a normal level (around 60 – 100 beats per minute).
Blacktown Hospital cardiologist Dr Ajita Kanthan said the procedure offered new hope to patients who may not have been able to receive a traditional pacemaker.
“It’s much less cosmetically and medically invasive and is great for patients who may not be suitable for a traditional pacemaker because of their medical history,” he said.
“Patients recover much quicker from this surgery because it is less invasive; they have a shorter hospital stay, less chance of getting an infection and less risk of dislodgement.”
Patients are advised to discuss their suitability for the leadless pacemaker with their cardiologist.