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20 October
Sunday

World

Short-lived pacemakers to be a thing of the past

Scientists have developed a concept without a battery, running from the heartbeat

Photo: SCMP

/NOVOSTIVL/ Scientists on Tuesday unveiled a battery-free pacemaker that generates its energy from the heartbeats of pigs in what could pave the way for an "implant for life" in humans suffering from heart defects. This article appeared in the Agence France-Presse.

Millions of patients rely on pacemakers – small electrical implants in the chest of abdomen – to help regulate their heartbeats after chronic or acute illness.

Now researchers in China and the United States believe they have successfully tested a self-powered pacemaker in adult pigs – an animal remarkably physiologically similar to humans. When they powered up the devices they found that the pigs’ irregular heartbeat was corrected.

"The pacemaker was fully implanted in adult pigs and all of the energy for cardiac pacing is reclaimed from the heart-beating energy of the same animal," said lead study author Zhou Li, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Furthermore, the energy retained from every heartbeat turned out to be higher than the energy demands of most current pacemakers in humans, opening the door to someday giving patients a permanent power source for their implants.

"It could be an implant for life," add Zhou. The team stressed however that more work was needed to determining the long-term safety and durability of the devices before human versions could be developed.

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