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01-Mar-2019

Electric Generator Uses Beating Heart To Powers Cardiac Implants

Pacemakers, cardioverter defibrillators and other cardiac implants cannot last a lifetime as they are dependent on batteries, which have a limited time period and cannot be recharged. In such a situation the answer becomes replacement surgeries, which needs to be done every ten years. However, this causes the patients many difficulties as they are both costly and for those who are already fragile, they may not be able to stand multiple surgeries.

Engineers at Dartmouth and clinicians at University of Texas Health San Antonio have been working in collaboration to develop and test an electricity generator for which the source of energy is the heart of the patient. It is probable that this technology might be able to power cardiac implants for an indefinite period. This in turn will bring down the overall cost of such therapies, as patients will not be bound to undergo multiple successive surgeries.

The technology used here is dependent on piezoelectric thin- film energy conversion material that are incorporated with the electrode leads that are attached to the heart. With the contracting and expanding of the heart, the electrodes also move back and forth, which causes the piezoelectric mechanism to generate electric signals, each time the heart pumps.

Currently the prototype has been able to generate 0.5 V and 43 nA when a simulated heart pumps at one beat per second according to a study by the researchers. The output can be doubled with an additional ldquo;proof massrdquo; of only 32 mg. However, this will put greater stress on the heart.

The system uses little space outside the heart and the components it is built of are biocompatible. The work on the system still remains with respect to optimizing it and furthering the scale of technology down to size. Given the positive results of the first round of animal studies, it can be hoped that with this technology, cardiac implants may soon start lasting till the lifetime of the patient.

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Last Updated: 20-Mar-2019