Tuesday, December 02, 2008

More Power Means More Functions For Pacemaker!

A pacemaker is a small device, which can be installed under the skin of a person’s chest or abdomen, for helping control abnormal heart rhythms. By using electrical pulses, such devices can prompt the heart to beat a normal rate.

Arrhythmia is the name given to describe abnormal heart rhythms. When a person has symptoms related to arrhythmias, his or her heart rhythms can be too slow, fast or simply irregular. With the help of a pacemaker, a person with abnormal heart rhythm could resume a more active lifestyle.

It has always been the wish of doctors to incorporate more functions into the pacemakers to help monitor the heart. However, to add new functions into pacemaker means more power is required, and the only way to increase the power is to use larger-size and heavier battery. Unfortunately, such change would certainly make patients feel uncomfortable and arouse rejection from the patients.

Good news has emerged recently when researchers have developed a tiny generator that can harvest the excess energy of a beating heart to help power a pacemaker or defibrillator, according to a paper presented at the American Heart Association's annual meeting during November 2008.

By capturing enough surplus heart energy, the experimental micro-generator, developed by the researchers from Southampton University Hospital in Britain, can in turn provide 17 percent of the power required to run a pacemaker. This means that new generation of devices that lasted significantly longer would be available soon and more functions that can help monitor the heart can be added.

Right now, the researchers have already started their work on how to improve the materials used in the generator in order to enhance the energy harvesting.

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