Category Archives: heart failure

Battery-less pacemaker tests out

X-ray image of installed pacemaker showing wir...
X-ray image of installed traditional pacemaker showing wire routing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new pacemaker, designed without battery or wires, is implanted directly into the heart and gets its energy wirelessly from radio frequency radiation transmitted by an external battery pack. It can also control electrical signals to all four chambers of the heart. The prototype, developed by researchers from Rice University and others, was presented at the recent Texas Heart Institute (THI) at the IEEE’s International Microwave Symposium (IMS) in Honolulu. The wireless transmitter can be up to a few centimeters away.

Traditional pacemakers use electrical signals to keep the heart beating steadily, but they are planted in the upper side chest so that doctors can access them easily to replace the onboard batteries with minor surgery. The signals transmit to the heart via wires called leads, which are known sometimes to lead to bleeding or infection.

This new pacemaker can even act as a defibrillator when needed. Worked flawlessly on a pig.

It’s sure got a lot going for it. Only thing we worry about is: Even if the external transmitter is very small, how’s the patient going to keep it always within the required distance without wearing some kind of external pack – something that could be way too easy to damage or lose?

Further work underway. Read more here on the wireless, battery-less pacemaker.

More biomarkers making diagnostics better

The first time you learn about a biomarker being able to diagnose a condition, you hope it’s not you, getting diagnosed with congestive heart failure. If your doctor finds elevated levels of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) in a blood test, she knows immediately to suspect heart failure.

Researchers are now discovering more biomarkers to help diagnose and manage a variety of conditions. Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) or concussion, for instance, can be easily confused with potentially passing phenomena such as intoxication or delirium, according to an article online in MedPage Today. But mTBI and concussion require urgent and decisive care. A new study has found that two biomarkers can be measured in order to differentiate mTBI or concussion from other conditions and thus signal doctors to institute appropriate treatment.

In a study of patients treated at a level 1 trauma center, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) beat out ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase L1 (UCH-L1) for detecting TBI, CT lesions, and neurosurgical intervention…reported online in JAMA Neurology.

Now they’re studying how quickly a marker can be detected and over how long a period it can be used so they can tell how accurately these biomarkers will allow doctors to gauge an injury.

Non-invasive. Always good news.