Pacemakers powered by the heart

[tweetmeme] Back in 1899 we realized that by infusion of electrical pulse to the Heart in asystole caused a ventricular contraction and that a heart rhythm of 60-70 beats per minute could be evoked by impulses applied at spacings equal to 60-70/minute. What did we do with this information we created the Pacemaker, the pacemaker for the heart actually helps the heart in its normal function with a gentle helping hand for those who have week hearts. According to World Health Organisation data, 16.7 million people die each year owing to heart attacks, and pacemakers can help a lot of these patients.

It was only by the 1950’s that we were able to produce an implantable pacemaker. The problem of batteries and their charging and discharging is something that the patients that use them have to deal with. This has been an issue for which there have been only temporary solutions. Longer battery life, modulation in the working based on how much assistance is required etc is something that people are still experimenting with to get a long lasting pacemaker.

British scientists have successfully experimented to develop a heart-powered pacemaker. Until now, a pacemaker used the electrical impulses delivered by the electrodes from the heart’s contracting muscles to regulate the heartbeat, but the pacemakers and defibrillators of tomorrow could generate power from the heart itself.

At first glance, this idea seems somewhat impossible, like using the movement of an engine’s pistons to power a car and was made possible by British scientists who used a microgenrator in their experiment to successfully produce enough electricity from the heart to run the pacemaker. The microgenerator used is made of two individual liquid-filled balloons, which are placed at different locations within the heart, but remain connected to a silicone tube consisting of a moving magnet. The heartbeats press the balloons alternatively, forcing the fluid in it to move the magnet past the coil in the silicone tube, producing electricity in the process.

The team of scientists believes that the introduction of the heart-powered technology could enhance the utility of the pacemaker’s of today, as the usage of generated energy could be made to recharge the batteries of the pacemaker. The pacemakers could also generate energy through the flow and movement of the blood, heat differentials or physiological pressures, apart from the tested induction version. Using this energy to recharge pacemakers or defibrillator batteries a will make them last longer, and so increase the intervals between the invasive surgical procedures needed to replace them. Heart implants typically communicate details about their performance to other medical equipment via a wireless link, so the new generator could also allow them to transmit more data.

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