Scientists test new pacemaker in the US

(CBS News) Brooklyn, NY-- Scientists are testing a new pacemaker in the US, and doctors say the small device could have big benefits for some heart patients.

Researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital werethe first in the US to implant the new, experimental pacemaker, which is said to be smaller than a triple A battery.

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

Surgeons use a catheter to guide the new 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," Dr. Reddy added. "It's also a problem because that lead, which is what communicates with the heart, that lead can fracture."

Pacemakers are necessary when a patient's heart doesn't beat fast enough or work properly. Dr. Reddy says the procedure to takes five to 10 minutes, and the recovery is also faster.

The device corrected Gregory Dobin's heartbeat , restoring his pulse to a healthy 60 beats per minute.

The 83-year-old, who was left with facial paralysis after cancer, says his breathing has also improved since getting the device.

"I feel much better. I'm telling you," Dobin told CBS News.

More than 600 patients are expected to take part in the nationwide study to make sure the new pacemaker is safe and effective.If there's a problem, doctors can remove the pacemaker through a catheter.

The device is already approved for use in Europe and currently can only be used to regulate the lower chamber of the heart.

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