Regular implantable defibrillators (like this one) may save patients' lives, but also inflict a lot of pain and trauma (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
While regular pacemakers attempt to rectify arrhythmias (irregular heart beat rhythms) using constantly-delivered electric pulses, implantable cardioverter defibrillators do something a bit different. As long as everything stays normal, they don’t do any shocking – when they detect a dangerously fast heart beat, however, they respond by delivering a massive jolt of electricity to the heart. While this may save the patient’s life, it’s also very traumatic and painful. Now, a team of scientists from Washington University in St. Louis may have come up with a solution to that problem.