Heart patients are now benefiting from a major advancement in pace maker technology. KFBK's John Brenneise met a Sacramento woman who became one of the first patients in Northern California to receive the new device.

Sarah was forced to take many medications and the occasional electro-shock to help control her heart rhythm.

Sarah Smith is 89 years old. She suffered from a slow heart beat which can deprive the brain of oxygen-rich blood. That made her a candidate for a pacemaker. But not just any pacemaker. Sarah received the new Micra device recently approved by the FDA. It's about a tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker.

Photo by John Brenneise, KFBK

Before today, Sarah was forced to take many medications and the occasional electro-shock to help control her heart rhythm. "And Dr. Tadros tells me I'm not gonna have to take anymore so that makes me very happy."

Dr. Thomas Tadros is a cardiologist at Sutter Medical Center. He implanted the device Thursday. "So it's all done with a needle stick in the vein in the thigh instead of making an incision in the chest. And the patients usually go home the next day." Dr. Tadros pointed out another benefit of the new design. "They're so small now that even when they come to the point where the battery is up and you need a new one, because they don't take up so much area you can just put in another one right next to it."

With her newfound freedom, Sarah is now looking forward to her granddaughter's wedding next year and is hoping to plan a cruise to Alaska.