Pacemaker (PM) technology has developed tremendously in recent decades. We evaluated the extent of individual programming in current PMs.
Over a 7-month period in 2016, all deceased persons taken to the Rostock crematorium were prospectively screened for cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) and these were interrogated in situ. Programming of patient data, leads, and study parameters including mode, lower rate, upper tracking or sensor rate (UTSR), ventricular refractory time, sleeping function, hysteresis, and PM-mediated tachycardia intervention were analyzed and compared with delivery settings. Alterations in atrial/ventricular capture management and atrial/ventricular sensing assurance as well as changes in sensitivity and lead output were evaluated.
We examined 2297 subjects, of whom 154 (6.7%) had CIEDs, with 125 (81.2%) being PMs. Finally, 72 (57.6%) PMs were eligible for analysis with an operation time of 31.0 ± 27.0 months. We excluded 28 (18.2%) implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), 51 (41%) PMs presenting elective replacement indicator (ERI), two (1.6%) PMs with programming to insufficient function prior to death, and the left ventricle parameter of one (1.4%) cardiac resynchronization therapy pacemaker (CRT-P); further one CIED (0.6%) was not contactable. PMs offered in mean 75.2% of study parameters thereof 88.0% were to adjust manually, whereof 49.3% stayed unchanged to delivery mode. Lead output, UTSR, lower rate, and mode were the most frequently changed parameters (>85.7%, 65.3%, 54.2%, and 52.8%, respectively) compared with unmodified ventricular refractory time and hysteresis (91.7% and. 85.4%, respectively); 2.8% of PMs had out-of-the-box settings. The most frequent personalized data were last (88.9%) and first name (73.6%), while atrial and ventricular serial lead numbers were rarely entered (18.2% and 23.4%, respectively).
The programming possibilities of PMs have advanced greatly. Nonetheless, improvements in individual PM programming are still needed as demonstrated by the findings in this study, e.g., PMs with manufacturer settings and lack of individual data.