Heart team implant 10,000th pacemaker

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The heart unit at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is celebrating reaching a special milestone after implanting its 10,000th pacemaker.

Nancy Knowles and cardiac physiologist Karen Potts

Nancy Knowles and cardiac physiologist Karen Potts

Nancy Knowles, 79, had the honour of being patient number 10,000.

The Northallerton grandmother had been diagnosed with heart failure but had put off having a pacemaker for more than two years. Eventually she became very breathless and found herself attending appointments in a wheelchair so she agreed to undergo the procedure.

Nancy had the pacemaker fitted at The James Cook University Hospital and was out of hospital the same day, with follow up clinics provided at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton. Now she says she feels better than ever and is happily walking about again.

“I’m feeling absolutely fine,” she said. “I’m walking better and can get up the stairs better. I can do more things now than I did before!”

A pacemaker is a small device that is placed in the chest to help control abnormal heart rhythms. It uses electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate.

The heart team at James Cook fitted their first pacemaker back in 1993 and now implant around 800 of the devices every year in the hospital’s cardiac catheterisation labs. Many of these are complex cases as the more straightforward procedures can now be carried out in district hospitals.

Consultant cardiologist Dr Andrew Turley said: “It’s a tremendous achievement to get to number 10,000. These devices have a clear benefit to life expectancy and every year we are doing more and helping more patients.”

The award-winning cardiac electrophysiology team have pioneered a number of leading edge treatments over the last 25 years including:

  • first in the UK to implant a Medtronic Reveal LINQ™ loop recorder
  • first in the world (outside of clinical trials) to implant a WiSE wireless pacemaker the size of a grain of rice
  • first globally to fit an Ingenio™ pacemaker which lasts up to 14 years
  • first in the country to create a nurse-led arrhythmia service
  • introducing specialist blackout clinics at James Cook and Friarage hospitals