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Pacemaker

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

Ordinary heart cells have been transformed into working replicas of SAN cells, which allow...

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

Scientists are looking into treating Alzheimer's disease by applying tiny shocks to the br...

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

Regular implantable defibrillators (like this one) may save patients' lives, but also infl...

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

How long before an alternative is found to battery-powered pace makers like this? (Photo: ...

Research using a prototype piezoelectric energy-harvesting device developed by the University of Michigan suggests that the human heart provides more than enough energy to power a pacemaker, according to a statement released by the American Heart Association. The research has led to fresh speculation that piezoelectricity, electricity converted from mechanical stresses undergone by a generator, may one day provide an alternative to battery-powered pacemakers that need to be surgically replaced as often as every five years.  Read More

Fraunhofer's external transmitter, which is paired with an internal mobile generator

When it comes to implantable electronic devices such as pacemakers, biosensors or drug-delivery devices, there are a few options regarding power sources. While batteries could be used in some applications, doing so would require surgically replacing the implant when its battery runs out. Radio wave-based and inductive systems are instead often used, in which power is “beamed” to the device from a source outside the body. According to researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems, however, such systems often have a limited range, and are easily affected by factors such as location, position and movement. Instead, they’ve developed what they claim is a better, more versatile system.  Read More

A prototype pacemaker created by engineers from the University of Michigan could someday d...

A heart-powered pacemaker may sound counter-intuitive, but in essence this is precisely what aerospace engineers from the University of Michigan are proposing. The engineers have come up with a prototype powered by vibrations in the chest cavity - vibrations which are caused mainly by the beating of the heart.  Read More

Scientists at Stanford University have created heart cells that contract when exposed to l...

Working their way towards energy-efficient pacemakers that use light pulses to control the beating of the heart, scientists at New York's Stony Brook University recently developed optogenetic heart tissue – it contracts when exposed to light. More specifically, they took donor cells that had been modified to respond to light, and coupled them to conventional heart cells. A team from California’s Stanford University, however, has now created actual optogenetic heart cells.  Read More

Scientists have developed heart tissue that contracts when exposed to light, which could p...

There's no denying that pacemakers are life-saving devices, but they do have their limitations. These include the facts that their metal leads can break, they need to be surgically accessed if their batteries run out, and they can be disrupted by strong magnetic fields. Some or all of these problems may one day become things of the past, however, due to research currently being conducted at New York's Stony Brook University - scientists there are working towards the development of pacemakers that control the heart through pulses of light.  Read More

The University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center is examining the legality and basic logis...

Despite ongoing advances in prevention techniques and monitoring systems, heart disease remains the world’s leading cause of death. A study from the University of Michigan (U-M) Cardiovascular Center has looked to the past for a future remedy in a study that examines the legality and basic logistics of recycling pacemakers after they have been removed from a deceased person.  Read More

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