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Heart

The business end of the probe, built around a single disc-like chip

Imagine if you were trying to clear rubble out of a tunnel, but you could only see that tunnel from the side, instead of looking straight into it. Well, that's currently what it's like for doctors who are trying to see inside patients' blocked coronary blood vessels using ultrasound. Soon, however, a tiny catheter-based probe may give them a 3D real-time forward view from inside those vessels – or from inside the heart itself – not unlike that seen by the microscopic submarine crew in the movie Fantastic Voyage.  Read More

HLAA sets to an elastic consistency, and bonds with cardiac tissue

A hole in the heart is never a good thing, so when an infant is born with such a defect, doctors have to act quickly to fix it. Unfortunately, both sutures and staples can damage the heart tissue, plus it takes too long to apply sutures. Existing surgical adhesives have their own drawbacks in that they can be toxic, and they typically become unstuck in wet, dynamic environments such as the heart. As a result, infants often require subsequent operations to "replug" the hole. Now, however, scientists have developed a sort of superglue for the heart, that quickly and securely bonds patches to holes.  Read More

Renderings of an implanted Carmat artificial heart

Last Wednesday in Paris, a 75 year-old man received an artificial heart. That in itself might not be newsworthy, as such devices have been in use since the early 80s. In this case, however, the gadget in question was the first Carmat bioprosthetic artificial heart to ever be implanted in a human. According to its inventor, cardiac surgeon Alain Carpentier, it's the world's first self-regulating artificial heart.  Read More

The prototype sensor belt developed by researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technolog...

Although electrocardiograms (ECGs) can help predict cardiac emergencies as much as several months before a potentially life-threatening episode, this usually requires being hooked up to an ECG machine for a period of time at a doctor's office or hospital. A new sensor belt prototype allows an ECG to be recorded around the clock for up to six months, increasing the chances a problem will be discovered and treated before an emergency strikes.  Read More

The Nanostim pacemaker, with a Euro coin for scale

Ordinarily, a pacemaker is surgically implanted below the collarbone, where it sits in a sizable pocket under the skin. Electrical leads run from it to the heart, allowing it to monitor the rhythm of the heartbeat, and deliver electrical pulses to adjust that rhythm as needed. Now, however, Minnesota-based St. Jude Medical has announced upcoming availability of "the world’s first and only commercially available leadless pacemaker." Known as the Nanostim, it's reportedly less than 10 percent the size of a regular pacemaker, and is inserted directly into the heart via a minimally-invasive procedure.  Read More

Rice University researchers use the heartbeat as a random signal generator to make medical...

Remotely hacking a pacemaker or insulin pump should be impossible, but sadly it isn't. It puts the millions of people who use wireless medical implants at potential risk. Researchers at Rice University believe they have a solution: a touch-based device that will use a person's own heartbeat as a password to permit or deny access to their implant.  Read More

One of the Tel Aviv coiled heart tissue fibers

When a heart attack occurs, the resulting dead heart tissue is replaced with scar tissue that's incapable of expanding and contracting. This means that the victim is left with a permanently weakened heart. Numerous studies are now looking at ways in which the dead tissue can instead be replaced with functioning cardiac tissue. While most of the lab-grown tissue created so far has used straight fibers as a base, scientists at Tel Aviv University recently had another idea – if the tissue is supposed to expand and contract, then why not make it using springy fibers?  Read More

The Nymi bracelet uses the wearers EKG for identification

If someone says that they want to steal your heart, be careful. They may be trying to get into your computer files. The Toronto-based biometrics company Bionym wants to replace old-fashioned passwords with Nymi; a bracelet that uses the wearer’s heartbeat in place of passwords. According to the developers, the system delivers a secure and convenient means of identification that also provides the potential to control devices using gestures.  Read More

New research demonstrates that it could be easy to trick the mind and trigger an out-of-bo...

New research demonstrates that triggering an out-of-body experience (OBE) could be as simple as getting a person to watch a video of themselves with their heartbeat projected onto it. According to the study, it's easy to trick the mind into thinking it belongs to an external body and manipulate a person's self-consciousness by externalizing the body's internal rhythms. The findings could lead to new treatments for people with perceptual disorders such as anorexia and could also help dieters too.  Read More

There may be new hope for heart attack victims, in the form of patches that incorporate go...

When someone has a heart attack, the damaged heart tissue doesn’t grow back. Instead, it’s replaced by non-beating scar tissue. As a result, the heart is permanently weakened. Now, however, researchers at Tel Aviv University are getting promising results using patches that contain cardiac cells and gold nanofibers.  Read More

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