The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first pacemaker to do away with electrical wires that have long been a shortcoming of internal heart devices.

The 1-inch Micra Transcatheter Pacing System works like older pacemakers to control irregular heartbeats, but does not use leads—wires that traditionally connect the device's generator to the heart.

Unlike the Transcatheter, the mini pacemaker from Medtronic is implanted directly into the heart's lower-right chamber, which pumps blood to the lungs. The device is the size of a large pill and can be placed without surgery, through a tube into a blood vessel in the groin, and then up to the right side of the heart.

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