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Pacemaker

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
In the near future, it's entirely possible that babies with heart defects will be born with complete pacemakers already installed. That's because scientists at Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and the University of Southern California have developed the world's first fully-implantable pacemaker for fetuses. 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
Researchers at Stanford University have developed a new way to safely transfer energy to tiny medical devices implanted deep inside the human body. The advance could lead to the development of tiny "electroceutical" devices that can be implanted near nerve bundles, heart or brain tissue and stimulate them directly when needed, treating diseases using electronics rather than drugs. Read More
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
Scientists at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute have successfully reprogrammed ordinary heart cells to become exact replicas of so-called “pacemaker” heart cells. Such replica cells could conceivably one day be used instead of electronic pacemakers, in patients with heart disease. Read More
The process of deep brain stimulation involves using a pacemaker-like implanted device to apply controlled mild electrical pulses to specific areas of the brain. In recent studies, it has been used – with some success – to treat conditions such as Parkinson's disease, major depression and Tourette syndrome. Now, in the ADvance Study, researchers at several research centers are exploring its use in restoring memory function to people with Alzheimer’s disease. Read More
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. Read More
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