Technology Update: Can a “Leadless” Pacemaker Fix a Leaking Heart Valve?

By Adam Pick on January 27, 2020

I just received a fascinating question from Shae about leadless pacemakers and leaking heart valves.

Shae asked me, “Hi Adam – I previously had a mitral valve replacement and tricuspid valve repair. I currently have a 7-year old pacemaker that is causing my tricuspid valve to leak. My electrophysiologist doctor has been talking to me about “leadless” pacemakers. I don’t know much about leadless pacers. The doctor says there is a 50/50 chance that a leadless pacemaker will correct my leaking valve. Is that correct? I don’t want to go through another valve replacement surgery as I am only 43 years old. Thanks, Shae”

 

Leadless Pacemaker (Medtronic)
 


Together, we have learned that some patients do get pacemakers after heart valve surgery.  However, I was really curious to learn more about Shae’s questions about the pacemaker leads. That said, I reached out to Dr. Vinay Badhwar, the Executive Chair of the West Virginia University Heart and Vascular Institute at WVU Medicine.  So you know, Doctor Badhwar is a long-time supporter of HeartValveSurgery.com who has helped many patients in our community including Rachel Haddon, Tricia Allen and Josephine Rizzo.

 

Dr. Vinay Badhwar (WVU Medicine)

 
 

Dr. Badhwar Says…

After I sent Shae’s question to Dr. Badhwar, I was excited to quickly receive the following response from Dr. Badhwar.
 

Shae asks a great question.  The answer is that it depends on how old the tricuspid repair and pacemaker interaction has been going on.  If this interaction is relatively fresh… Then, yes this may be quite plausible for a leadless pacemaker to correct the leaking valve.  However, if this interaction is more than a year or so old, then what tends to happen is that the ventricular pacemaker lead adheres to the tricuspid leaflets as it crosses the valve.  That said, an extraction may not help (and may hurt) the tricuspid regurgitation. My best wishes to Shae!

 
 
To help you learn more about leadless pacemakers, I just found this video which compares a traditional pacemaker to a leadless pacemaker.  As you will see, the video does address potential complications of traditional pacemakers with normal heart valve function.
 

 
 

Thanks Shae & Dr. Badhwar!

Many thanks to Shae for this question about leadless pacemakers and a special thanks to Dr. Vinay Badhwar for sharing his clinical experiences and research with our community!

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Keep on tickin!
Adam


Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

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