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Smaller, Non-Surgical Heart Pacemaker Being Tested For Use In U.S.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A new, non-surgical version of the medical pacemaker device is being tested.

As CBS 2's Dr. Max Gomez reported, the device could be a game-changer for heart patients.

About 200,000 cardiac pacemakers are implanted every year in this country.

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital are the first in the U.S. to implant the new, experimental pacemaker that is smaller than a AAA battery.

"This device doesn't require surgery so that means there's a low risk of infection," Dr. Vivek Reddy of Mount Sinai said.

Surgeons use a catheter to guide the device up through a vein in the leg and screw it directly into the heart muscle. Doctors say the new pacemaker doesn't have wires or leads, which may be another advantage.

"The problem is if ever that lead has to be removed, then it's very difficult to remove that lead. It's also a problem because that lead - which is what communicates with the heart - that lead can fracture," Dr. Reddy said.

Pacemakers are necessary when a patient's heart doesn't beat fast enough or work properly.

Dr. Reddy said the new procedure only takes 5 to 10 minutes and has a quick recovery time as well.

If there's a problem, doctors can remove the new pacemaker through a catheter, the same way it's implanted, Gomez reported.

More than 600 patients are expected to take part in the nationwide study to make sure the new pacemaker is safe and effective.

The device is already approved for use in Europe.

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