New Device may Eliminate Need for Surgery to Replace Pacemaker Batteries
Currently, patients need to undergo repeated surgeries in order to replace batteries in pacemakers.
However, a new device tested recently, can convert energy from a beating heart to provide enough electricity to power a pacemaker, the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012 heard.
Indeed, tests suggest that the device can produce 10 times more energy than required. This device is a huge discovery since patients wearing pacemakers, with the help of this device, would be able to eliminate the need for replacements when batteries are spent.
However, more clinical trials need to be organized before the safety for the usage of patients is ascertained, The British Heart Foundation said, according to BBC News.
Piezoelectric materials, which are used in some microphones to convert vibrations into electric signals, can generate charge when their shape is changed.
Scientists at the University of Michigan are trying to use the movement of the heart, when it beats, to be converted into a source of electricity.
When the tests were conducted by researchers to stimulate the rate of heartbeats, they were successfully able to generate enough electricity to power a pacemaker. Tests now need to be conducted on a real heart in order to build the device into a commercial pacemaker.
M. Amin Karami, Ph.D., lead author of the study and research fellow in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, told a meeting of the American Heart Association that people need many surgeries, about every seven years, to keep pacemaker batteries running.
"Many of the patients are children who live with pacemakers for many years. You can imagine how many operations they are spared if this new technology is implemented," he added.
"Advancing technology over recent years has meant people with pacemakers need to change their battery less often. This device could be another step forward along this path. If researchers can refine the technology and it proves robust in clinical trials, it would further reduce the need for battery changes," said professor Peter Weissberg, the medical director at the British Heart Foundation, according to the report.