The latest meeting of the American Heart Association witnessed the unveiling of a new pacemaker concept: one that collects energy from the heart's regular beatings, turns it into electricity and thus succeeds in meeting its own power demands.
Should such experimental devices pass all of the tests they are to be subjected to with flying colors, it is possible that people having to wear pacemakers will no longer have to “recharge” on quite a regular basis.
As is to be expected, this would improve on their quality of life, seeing how they will be spared the need to go into surgery every five-seven years.
Science News explains that, after conducting various experiments in a laboratory, M. Amin Karami, Ph.D, and his team found that 100 simulated heartbeats are fully capable of generating 10 times the power burnt by a modern pacemakers.
Therefore, a so-called energy harvester could potentially help collect this energy, turn it into electricity and feed it into the pacemaker.
The scientists working on developing these pacemakers stressed the fact that their devices would be cell phone-proof and microwave-proof, meaning that being close to such gadgets and household appliances would not affect them in any way.
“Many of the patients are children who live with pacemakers for many years,” specialist M. Amin Karami wished to emphasize. Therefore, “You can imagine how many operations they are spared if this new technology is implemented.”
For the time being, the researchers looking into this issue have found that, in order to harvest a beating heart's energy, they could use either a linear energy harvester, or a non-linear one.
Linear energy harvesters are only efficient when heart rates find themselves within very specific parameters. Because of this, it seems that non-linear ones are to be preferred, seeing how they can generate electricity from heartbeats ranging from 20 to 600 beats per minute.
The funding needed in order to carry out this research was provided by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the US National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.