Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Listening in on the whispering heart

11.08.2004


A new implantable device that could send an early-warning signal to your doctor before heart rhythm problems arise, may now be possible thanks to research described in the latest issue of the Institute of Physics journal, Physiological Measurement.

More than five million people worldwide have been diagnosed with the heart disorder atrial fibrillation (AF). In AF, the upper chambers of the heart, the atria, quiver and beat rapidly: a condition that can often lead to heart failure and stroke, making AF a major cause of hospital admission. Similarly, another disorder of the heart’s rhythm, ventricular fibrillation (VF) can be just as bad for your health. Biomedical engineer Kityee Au-Yeung of Duke University, in North Carolina, says there is an urgent need to find a safe and effective treatment for AF.

Au-Yeung and her colleagues Chad Johnson and Patrick Wolf, have now developed an implantable electronic device that could help doctors listen in to the whispering heart, and prevent serious attacks of AF before it happens.



AF can often be stopped by a short, sharp electrical shock to the heart, a method known as electrical cardioversion, or defibrillation, a method familiar to anyone who watches TV hospital dramas. The method is designed to resynchronize the heart beat and restore its normal rhythm. Cardioversion is very successful in stopping an AF or VF episode and there are calls for the installation of defibrillators in many public places. But, the electrical shocks delivered to the patient can be very painful.

"AF is not an immediately life-threatening condition, and does not require immediate attention like VF does," explains Au-Yeung, "Defibrillating an AF episode, if not done properly, could itself lead to a fatal ventricular arrhythmia."

Au-Yeung and her colleagues are investigating a new version of electrical defibrillation that uses lower energy shocks, which they say would be far less painful for the patient as well as carrying less risk of complications. "We want to determine if AF can be terminated by using a series of lower energy electrical shocks, instead of a single high energy one," explain Au-Yeung, who is a graduate researcher in Wolf’s laboratory at Duke.

To test the concept the team has designed and built a device that can be implanted under the skin close to the heart, like a pacemaker. Sensors on the implantable cardiac telemetry system pick up the heart’s electrical pattern and send out a continuous radio signal, which is picked up by a notebook computer fitted with a receiver. With this set up, the researchers could record an electrocardiogram directly on to the computer without the need for external sensors and wiring.

This is not a one-way system though. The computer can send a signal back to the device telling it to deliver a short burst of electrical pulses directly to the heart. The sensors measure the effect on the heartbeat and send the information straight back to the computer. "We hope that with this novel system, we can learn more about AF and subsequently, find a more effective way to treat it," Au-Yeung says.

"A version of this device would most likely be targeted at patients who have already been implanted with a pacemaker or an ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator)," adds Au-Yeung, "For example, the remote monitoring and low energy pacing techniques could be incorporated into a pacemaker design." Remote monitoring from a patient’s home could alert their doctor to an AF episode and the doctor could then administer appropriate pacing therapy and monitor its effects.

David Reid | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iop.org
http://www.iop.org/EJ/journal/PM

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht 'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers
16.02.2018 | National University of Science and Technology MISIS

nachricht New process allows tailor-made malaria research
16.02.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>