An Innovative Pacemaker That Recharges Itself With The Use Of The Heartbeat


Scientists in Seattle have created an innovative pacemaker that harnesses electrical energy from the natural rhythm of the heartbeat, enabling it to achieve partial self-recharging capabilities. This groundbreaking development represents a significant stride towards addressing the challenges associated with the conventional maintenance of pacemakers.

Despite the fact that each heartbeat only contributes 10% of the energy required for the subsequent heartbeat, the researchers are optimistic that their pioneering technology will establish a new standard in pacemaker design. The current norm involves the invasive process of replacing the battery through heart surgery, a procedure that often prompts individuals to opt for the implantation of a second pacemaker instead.

The novel device distinguishes itself by its diminutive size, being considerably smaller than traditional pacemakers. This reduction in size is attributed to its wireless design, allowing it to measure only one-third the size of a standard AAA battery. Moreover, the entire apparatus is situated within the right ventricle of the heart, emphasizing the seamless integration of this cutting-edge technology within the cardiovascular system.

“We hope to prolong battery life further and expand access of this product to younger patients, who would hopefully require fewer implants over their lifetime,” said Dr. Babak Nazer of the University of Washington in Seattle. He led the paper that demonstrated the new invention from his team of experts.

“When we can improve upon our 10 percent harvesting efficiency, we hope to partner with one of the major pacemaker companies to incorporate our design and housing into an existing leadless pacemaker,” he added.

The experimental wireless pacemaker casing harnesses mechanical energy and transforms it into electrical energy, enabling a partial recharge of its battery. This technology is akin to the one employed in certain experimental roads that generate electricity.

“Just like ultrasound converts electrical voltage into pressure or sound, we can engineer similar materials onto implantable medical devices to convert the heart’s natural oscillating pressures ‘backward’ into voltage to prolong battery life,” Dr. Nazer also added.

Historically, the feasibility of wireless pacemakers has been hindered by the challenge of replacing their batteries, often resulting in patients opting for additional devices instead of undergoing the complex battery replacement process.

Conventional pacemakers utilize diminutive wires to establish a connection between the heart and a generator with a battery, typically positioned just beneath the skin on the left shoulder. The average lifespan of batteries in both traditional and wireless pacemakers ranges anywhere from 6 to 15 years.

As highlighted by Nazer, individuals with cardiac issues at a younger age may necessitate multiple pacemakers over their lifetimes, rendering existing options impractical for varying reasons.

The forthcoming focus for Nazer and his team involves the formulation of extensive trials involving real human subjects to validate the efficacy of the wireless pacemaker. Simultaneously, their objective is to enhance the recharge rate of the device’s battery. An incremental shift from 10% to 20 or 30% could significantly extend the operational lifespan of the pacemaker, offering a notable increase in years of functionality.