Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who apparently lost consciousness and fell over the weekend and was rushed to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, underwent on Sunday the implantation directly into his heart of a Micra single-chamber pacemaker that is about the size of a vitamin pill. This device, which is now used in some patients with “heart block” (a slow heartbeat), eliminates the need for the electrical leads to be implanted as well.
Unlike conventional pacemakers that are larger and cost about $1,000, the Micra is very small and costs $9,000 apiece, but Prof. David Luria – head of the Arrhythmia Treatment Center and of the electrophysiology department at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem told The Jerusalem Post that any patient with a condition most suited to the Micra can get it as part of the Health Services “basket.”
The Micra has an average battery life of about a decade and then has to be replaced, said Luria. At first, Sheba doctors maintained that the prime minister suffered “dehydration” by spending the whole day at the Kinneret with his wife and younger son “without wearing a hat and drinking water.”
But this was dismissed by most people in the know, as Netanyahu had no sunburn and would surely have been told by his family and security guards to cover his head and drink water. His doctors at Sheba said in a video that the Micra was inserted because he had had a slow heartbeat “for years.”
Micra is for patients who suffer from bradycardia – a slow heartbeat (unlike tachycardia, which is a too-rapid heartbeat) and require a single-chamber pacemaker. A special group of cells in the sinoatrial node located in the right atrium of the heart begin the signal to start the heartbeat. Normally, the node fires the signal at about 60 to 100 times per minute at rest, but in bradycardia, the node fires less than 60 times per minute, which causes a lack of blood to pump to the rest of the body, said Luria.
Micra's performance rate at 99.6%
A 2017 European and American study on Micra’s performance in a real-world setting showed a high rate (99.6%) of implant success and low rate (1.51%) of major complications through 30 days after the implant. Lurie said that his department performs about 30 Micra implants out of 150 regular pacemaker implants a year and sends a doctor to visit the patient’s home as a follow-up.
Prof. Emeritus Rafael Beyar of the Interventional Cardiology Unit at Haifa’s Rambam Health Care Campus told the Post that someone with a heart block can live a normal life even at Netanyahu’s age of 73 years and six months.
When the heartbeat is slow, not enough blood reaches the brain, so one can lose consciousness, fall and be heart. isk for stroke, which is more likely to occur with tachycardia. A slow heartbeat can occur in both men and women, and even in younger people, but it is more common in the elderly. Netanyahu will have to stay clear of airport magnetometers, because of electronic interference, but not the low-level caused by shopping mall magnetometers.
Sheba has an excellent cardiac department, like many others in Israel. “I know all the cardiologists who are there. It is best not to smoke, to keep a normal weight, not to drink much alcohol and not to eat many simple carbohydrates, but this is good advice for all of us. He would do well to exercise, walk or swim within limits,” Beyar continued.