Pacemakers could be powered by Heartbeat

Stethoscope - BSN

(Best Syndication News) - Researchers created an experimental device that could collect energy from heartbeats to help power pacemakers. The early study suggests that the technology holds promise and can improve the way pacemakers work. The study was presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012.

Pacemakers, and possibly other devices such as implantable defibrillators, could take advantage of piezoelectricity technology as a power source. The energy charge is created from motion.

The findings suggest that patients could power their pacemakers — eliminating the need for replacements when batteries are spent. 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, said that these implantable devices require very little power to work.

Batteries in pacemakers tend to last between five to seven years. They must be replaced to make sure the pacemaker continues to work.

The battery replacement procedure is expensive and inconvenient for the pacemaker user, explained Karami. Many pacemaker users are children, and they will have to get their batteries changed-out many times in their lifetime; the new technology would alleviate that problem, Karami said.

The vibrations of the heartbeat were first measured by the researchers. They developed a prototype cardiac energy harvester using a “shaker” to mimic the heartbeat vibrations. They harvested the energy successfully and created 10 times more power than the current pacemaker technology requires. The researchers tested the simulated heartbeats at various speeds in sets of 100 to determine effectiveness.

The researchers used magnets to augment the amount of energy harvested. This proved to be less susceptible to changes in the heart speed. This nonlinear method of collecting enough energy to power the pacemaker worked in the range between 20 to 600 beats per minute. Karami also explained that his nonlinear device would not be interrupted by mobile phones or microwave ovens.

By: Marsha Quinn
Health Reporter

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