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Heart

Two years ago we heard about the Nanostim, a pacemaker that's less than 10 percent the size of a regular model. While it's pretty darn small, Medtronic's just-announced Micra TPS (Transcatheter Pacing System) is reportedly even tinier. Billed as the world's smallest pacemaker, it's described as being the size of a large vitamin capsule – and it can be implanted using a catheter. Read More
The growing number of biological structures being grown on chips in various laboratories around the world is rapidly replicating the entire gamut of major human organs. Now one of the most important of all – a viable functioning heart – has been added to that list by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley) who have taken adult stem cells and grown a lattice of pulsing human heart tissue on a silicon device. Read More
Heart failure patients awaiting organ transplants normally find themselves anchored to the hospital bed by a washing machine-sized device that keeps blood pumping through their veins. But for Stan Larkin, a patient at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, a new form of wearable technology is allowing him to keep on the move. The Freedom Driver is a compact, mobile version of the same machine that allows patients like Larkin to go about their normal lives while they wait for a matching donor heart to arrive. Read More
Due to its huge potential in applications ranging from cheaper vaccinations to energy-storing car panels, there's plenty of excitement surrounding the emergence of nanotechnology. But a team of scientists are urging caution, with a study conducted at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology suggesting that exposure to silicon-based nanoparticles may play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease. Read More
Signs of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) can start to appear in boys as young as six, leading to deterioration of the heart muscles and ultimately death. Pharmaceuticals aimed at controlling high blood pressure have been used to treat the one in 3,500 young males suffering from the condition, but a new study suggests that a novel combination of these drugs could slow the decline in heart function earlier on, and in promising new ways. Read More
In a world first, surgeons at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, Australia have successfully transplanted a "dead" heart into a patient. Thanks to the use of a revolutionary preservation solution, developed by the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and St Vincent’s Hospital, the doctors were able to resuscitate and transplant the donor heart after it had stopped beating for up to 20-30 minutes. Read More
One complication that can arise from a heart attack is the formation of scar tissue, which can the harden organ's walls and impede its ability to pump blood. This is caused by fibroblast cells which move to replace damaged muscle with the scar tissue. New research conducted at the University of North Carolina's (UNC) School of Medicine suggests these cells could be converted to endothelial cells which actually assist in recovery, potentially minimizing the damage caused during a heart attack. Read More
Although cardiac pacemakers have saved countless lives, they do have at least one shortcoming – like other electronic devices, their batteries wear out. When this happens, of course, surgery is required in order to replace the pacemaker. While some researchers are looking into ideas such as drawing power from blood sugar, Swiss scientists from the University of Bern have taken another approach. They’ve developed a wristwatch-inspired device that can power a pacemaker via the beating of the patient’s own heart. Read More
Pacemakers serve an invaluable purpose, by electrically stimulating a recipient's heart in order to keep it beating at a steady rate. The implantation of a pacemaker is a major surgical procedure, however, plus its presence in the body can lead to complications such as infections. Now, for the first time, scientists have instead injected genes into the defective hearts of pigs, converting unspecialized heart cells into "biological pacemakers." Read More
Over the past few decades, cardiac pacemaker technology has improved to the point that pacemakers have become a commonplace medical implant that have helped improve or save the lives of many millions of people around the world. Unfortunately, the battery technology used to power these devices has not kept pace and the batteries need to be replaced on average every seven years, which requires further surgery. To address this problem, a group of researchers from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has developed a cardiac pacemaker that is powered semi-permanently by harnessing energy from the body's own muscles. Read More
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