A 25-YEAR-OLD pharmacy manager has become the first patient in the region to undergo pioneering surgery to be fitted with the world’s smallest heart pacemaker.

Joshua Taylor has been experiencing unexplained blackouts since he was just 11-years-old. He was under the care of a specialist children’s hospital, which was unable to work out why he was fainting.

The problem appeared to have gone away until he collapsed last year while getting ready for bed. He was unconscious for a few minutes.

Mr Taylor was referred to Basildon Hospital under the care of consultant cardiologist Dr Jason Dungu. Seven days of electrocardiogram monitoring - which checks blood pressure and the rhythm and electrical activity of the heart - showed his heartbeat was pausing at intervals.

The pharmacy technician has now been fitted with a Micra Transcatheter Pacing System - known as the invisible pacemaker. It is 93 per cent smaller than a traditional pacemaker - which is the equivalent of a tea bag - and lasts as long. It also does not require a lead to be threaded into the heart.

Mr Taylor said: “At my first follow-up appointment, the doctors saw that the pauses had increased. They said I would need a pacemaker.

“Being the first patient to receive a leadless pacemaker made me feel slightly apprehensive, but I could see the advantages and the doctor reassured me that if there were any problems, I could have a traditional one fitted.”

The pacemaker - which uses electrical pulses to control the heartbeat - was installed by Dr Stuart Harris. The clinical director of Essex Cardiothoracic Centre, based in the grounds of Basildon Hospital, underwent training in the United States.

Mr Taylor is among the first in Britain to have the tiny piece of equipment fitted. The surgery has previously been carried out at hospitals in Southampton, London and Yorkshire.

He added: “I feel very well. The care and treatment at the cardiothoracic centre has been amazing.”

Dr Harris said: “It is known as the invisible pacemaker, is 93 per cent smaller than a traditional pacemaker and lasts as long. No lead is required because it is small enough to be implanted into the heart chamber through a vein in the patient’s leg.

“The component of a traditional pacemaker that is most likely to fail is the lead, so these new pacemakers are more reliable. And because they are so small, the implant only involves a small incision, meaning a reduced risk of infection for the patient, no visible sign of the device and a greater chance of resuming their normal activities.”