Healthbeat: Luzerne County cardiologist and his team’s impact on heart research


PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Heart pacemakers have evolved quite a bit since the first patient received one in 1958. Not only have pacemaker devices changed, but also methods to make a problematic heart beat the way it should.

Pacemakers are implanted to help control a heartbeat. But thanks to what’s being done by a cardiologist and his colleagues at Geisinger, it’s changing the way doctors approach heart pacing worldwide.

“In this condition, the left side of the heart is very slow and delayed,” said Dr. Pugal Vijayaraman, a cardiologist at Geisinger. 

Dr. Vijayaraman points to a case of heart failure but what can be corrected by placing a wire directly into the electrical system of the heart. The method called His bundle pacing stimulates the heart’s natural electrical conduction system.

“It becomes normal. This is almost normal activation of the heart. And so, the heart is also pumping very much normally,” Dr. Vijayaraman said.

What Dr. Vijayaraman and his electrophysiology colleagues have accomplished through this pacing technique can help prevent dyssynchrony, which can trigger complications including heart failure and even death. He refers to one of his many heart patients and how the procedure was performed.

“A small incision on the shoulder through the veins and we were able to place the wire precisely in the electrical system. It’s like literally rewiring the heart,” explained Dr. Vijayaraman.

Dr. Vijayaraman and his team are conducting a new trial to determine the benefits of this approach to treating patients with heart failure and dyssynchrony. The trial will look at 100 randomized patients treated with this new form of pacing and previous methodology.

“Since they will have a device, a pacemaker or a defibrillator, these patients will be followed routinely for the length of their device that is there.”

While Dr. Vijayaraman did not invent the His bundle pacing technique, he says he and his colleagues have been able to perfect it and want to share what they know with the world.

“And we’ll be able to show that we can do it for almost every patient that needs a pacemaker.”

The His bundle pacing trial launched by Dr. Vijayaraman began last month. It will last for two years.

Mark Hiller Eyewitness News

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