The American Heart Association has presented a study in which an experimental device converted energy from a beating heart to provide enough electricity to power a pacemaker.
The findings, revealed at the AHA’s Scientific Sessions 2012, suggest that patients could power their own pacemakers, which would lift the burden of replacing pacemakers every five to seven years when batteries run out.
In the preliminary study, researchers tested an energy-harvesting device that uses piezoelectricity, or an electrical charge generated from motion.
According to 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, this approach is promising for pacemakers because of the little power they would need to operate.
“Many of the patients are children who live with pacemakers for many years,” he said in a statement. “You can imagine how many operations they are spared if this new technology is implemented.”
The next step will be implanting the energy harvester, which is about half the size of batteries currently used in pacemaker, and integrate their technology into commercial pacemakers.