Researchers reported Sunday that it may soon be possible to power a pacemaker by a patient’s beating heart.
The team, which presented its work at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012 in Los Angeles, developed an energy harvesting device that someday might take the vibrations created by a heartbeat and convert them into enough electrical energy to power a pacemaker, said lead author M. Amin Karami, a research fellow in the department of aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
That may save many patients from repeated surgeries, he said.
Pacemakers, which are usually implanted in the chest, are used to control abnormal heart rhythms. One of the major problems with the devices in use today is that their batteries typically run out of juice after five to seven years of operation. For younger people with pacemakers, that means enduring repeated surgeries to implant replacements. But a pacemaker that harvested its own energy might be able to operate indefinitely.
“If we had a mechanism to generate this small amount of power, you’d never have to recharge it,” said Karami, in a video released by the American Heart Association (and available for viewing above.)