A recent survey conducted by the Medical association showed a rapid growth in the number of heart related ailments like cardiovascular diseases such as Atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia, long QT syndrome, tachycardia, Bradycardia etc.
To assist in proper functioning of the heart, Implantable cardiac pacemakers has been one of the greatest inventions. The demand for this device has sky rocketed to a huge extent due to the ever growing cardiac ailments worldwide.
Now one might wonder what exactly a Implantable Cardiac Pacemaker is.
A cardiac pacemaker is a small implantable device fitted in the abdomen or chest region. It is a battery operated device that uses low energy current to assist in normalizing the heartbeat. The battery has a shelf life of 10 yrs and needs surgical intervention to replace the batteries every decade or so.
Worldwide over 50 million people solely rely on these Cardiac implants for day to day normal functioning. The need for regular check up and battery replacement every 10 yrs has often been one of the most complained issues of the pacemaker.
Based on the problem faced by the cardiac patients, scientists created a device that could self-operate without the assistance of batteries. On imagining this might sound impossible but a team of brilliant bio-medical engineers and scientists actually created a dime size pacemaker that functions on a simple principle of physics.
The self powered pacemaker converts the kinetic energy emitted by the heart beat into electricity, which in turn powers the pacemaker. In fact this principle is also being tested on various other battery operated implants other than the pacemaker.
According to the research fellows and scientist of Dartmouth College in the US, the heartbeat produces enough energy to operate the pacemaker smoothly for a very long time. If the device is introduced as a replacement of the battery operated pacemakers, many issues can be easily resolved.
The cost of the battery replacement surgery and the chances of infection or battery leakage and faults are some of the problems that can be completely eradicated if these self powered Pacemakers are used.
John X J Zhang, the senior scientist from University of Texas has recently said in an interview “We are trying to solve the ultimate problem for any implantable bio-medical device.” in collaboration with Lin Dong, who is the senior research associate from Dartmouth College.
Dr Lin Dong also said that, “Of equal importance is that the devices not interfere with the body’s function, we knew it had to be bio-compatible, lightweight, flexible, and low profile, so it not only fits into the current pacemaker structure but is also scalable for future multi-functionality.”
The model pacemaker created by the team uses a thin lead wire attached to the Cardiac Musculature to harness the energy created during pumping action of the heart and convert it into Electrical energy needed to power the pacemaker.
The self charging batteries of the pacemaker have a piezoelectric polymer film coating called PVDF that is porous in nature. It has a flexible cantilever beam that helps in conversion of the heartbeat caused tremors into energy. The entire sequence of energy production and operation of the Pacemaker can be used for data collection and monitoring the patient when needed.
In the same interview John Zhang also said, “We have completed the first round of animal studies with great results which will be published soon.” “There is already a lot of expressed interest from the major medical technology companies.” said Andrew Closson, one of the study’s authors.
Medical experts and Cardiac Specialist are already very keen to use this new device for treatment of Cardiac ailments needing Pacemaker placement. The final approval and release date of the device is yet to be decided.