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 One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

nachricht The gut microbiota plays a key role in treatment with classic diabetes medication
01.06.2017 | University of Gothenburg

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>