Prevea Health

The Little Pacemaker that Could: Bill’s Story

For avid outdoorsman Bill Mayville, getting his blood pumping was nothing new; as a father of five and farmer, he was used to working hard. Despite this, the Shawano resident noticed he wasn’t able to do all the things he used to.

 “I had so much to do – but I would just get tired out and have to stop and rest,” recalls Bill. “I was really pushing myself because I didn’t have the ambition I used to have.”

These newfound struggles came to a head one July afternoon, when Bill was working on an outdoor project with his son. After a few hours of working in the mid-summer heat, Bill found himself getting light-headed and dizzy. When the incident took almost four days to completely recover from, Bill knew it was time to make a change.

When Bill’s cardiologist referred him to Dr. James Hansen, an electrophysiologist at Prevea Heart & Vascular Care, he discovered something life changing: he was a candidate for a Micra® Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS), known as “the world’s smallest pacemaker.” The Micra® TPS is used to treat people like Bill, who suffer from bradycardia, or a slow, irregular heart rate. This condition can cause dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, and fainting spells.

While it works similar to a traditional pacemaker, sending electrical impulses to the heart, the Micra® TPS does not require leads. This means that it is cosmetically invisible, unlike a traditional pacemaker which is typically 10 times larger and requires an incision in the patient’s chest. The Micra® TPS responds to patients’ activity levels by automatically adjusting therapy.

“Pacemakers have been enhancing patients’ lives for decades, but there are long-term risks of damage and infection associated with traditional pacemakers that have leads. This new, leadless pacemaker eliminates risks by being completely contained in the heart itself,” explains Dr. Hansen.
In August 2017, Dr. Hansen and his team at HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center in Green Bay became the first in Northeast Wisconsin to implant a Micra® TPS into a patient. That patient was Bill Mayville.

“Dr. Hansen was very thorough,” said Bill. “He made sure I was satisfied and was willing to spend plenty of time with me to make sure I was comfortable with everything.”

The size of a large vitamin and weight of a penny, the Micra® TPS is implanted through a minimally-invasive surgery, drastically reducing the average four-to-six week recovery time that comes with traditional pacemakers.

“For five days, I had a 10-pound lifting restriction, and that was it,” said Bill, who was eager to get back to his outdoor projects following surgery. Today, with renewed energy, he’s back to doing the things he loves.

“I just have a whole lot more stamina. I can continue working without having to go sit down, and I don’t feel so fatigued when I’m done. I feel like an old pickup truck with a new motor.”

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