Mount Sinai Patient Is First in the State to Receive Newly Approved Dual-Chamber Wireless Pacemaker

Christopher Rutz, 69, has been given a new lease of life after the insertion of a new type of pacemaker

In early 2022, Christopher Rutz started to experience shortness of breath and tiredness. His local hospital diagnosed abnormal heart rhythms and was initially able to control his symptoms with a cardioversion, a procedure that uses rapid, low energy electric shocks to restore a regular heart rhythm. The treatment helped for about three months, but his symptoms returned.  

Over the next six months, Christopher underwent a number of cardiac ablations, a catheter procedure where small areas in the heart are purposely scarred to help regulate abnormal electrical signals or arrhythmias in the heart. Unfortunately, all of these procedures proved unsuccessful: Christopher’s heartbeat had dropped to 38 beats per minute (a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute). He was then fitted with a pacemaker at the local hospital, but the device needed a number of adjustments over the next few months.

The electrophysiologist at the hospital mentioned that a new type of pacemaker was in the final stages of gaining FDA approval. The possibility of a new technology—with better outcomes—becoming available soon was a game changer for Christopher.

“I’m in the technology business, so I decided to wait until the new pacemaker got approval. I did some research and was pointed in the direction of Dr. Reddy and Dr. Maan at Mount Sinai.” Vivek Reddy, MD, is Director of Cardiac Arrhythmia Services for the Mount Sinai Health System, and Abhishek Maan, MD, is Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

The new device, a dual-chamber, leadless pacemaker, is much smaller than a conventional pacemaker and doesn’t require an invasive surgical procedure, but is instead implanted in a catheter procedure. “We go through a vein in the leg. There is the pacemaker pellet that we put in the bottom chamber of the heart, and then we have a second one that we put in the top chamber. Those two devices communicate with each other wirelessly through the bloodstream and control the heartbeat, just as the normal heart would do,” Dr. Reddy explained to Fox 5 News

Dr. Reddy is a world leader in treating cardiac arrhythmia, and has been conducting studies and trials of wireless pacemakers for more than 10 years. He is the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust Professor of Medicine in Cardiac Electrophysiology at Icahn Mount Sinai.

Christopher made an appointment to see Dr. Reddy in September 2023, a few months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted final approval for the new device. He was admitted for surgery at The Mount Sinai Hospital at the beginning of November 2023.  

“I was in the city on the Sunday to watch the marathon, and I started to feel shortness of breath. So, I went right away to Mount Sinai,” Christopher says. “From the time I checked in, the time in the emergency room was really, really quick. They got me into a room and had me scheduled for the operation for Monday morning. They were excellent all around. It was a really good experience.”

The procedure took approximately three hours, and he was discharged the next day. Christopher started to notice the effects of the new pacemaker within a few weeks. “I’ve started exercising more and getting out and taking walks—things I wasn’t able to do over the past two years. I can pick up and take my granddaughter for a walk again. I am back working, and I'm able to do most of everything I used to be able to do,” Christopher says.

Christopher highly recommends Dr. Reddy and his team for anyone experiencing heart arrhythmia who is in need of a pacemaker. “If they have a similar situation to mine—feeling tired, and difficulty breathing—definitely call Dr. Reddy and his team, because they're well worth it. They're very good at explaining things and laid everything out straight. No medical jargon. They did what they said they would do, and they did it correctly.”