Daily News: Disease

Soon, a pacemaker that matches heart beats with breathing [Science]

Times of India

06-25-14

LONDON: A revolutionary new pacemaker that synchronizes the heart rate with breathing is now being built. The device is being developed by the universities of Bath and Bristol.

Pre-clinical trials suggest the pacemaker gives a 25% increase in pumping ability, which is expected to extend the life of patients with heart failure. It is hoped that this technology can also be applied to brain research, including prosthetics , and potentially to stimulate the rebuilding of nerves following a stroke.

Julian Paton from the University of Bristol said, "We've known for almost 80 years that the heart beat is modulated by breathing but we have never fully understood the benefits this brings. The generous new funding from the British Heart Foundation will allow us to reinstate this natural occurring synchrony between heart rate and breathing and understand how it brings therapy to hearts that are failing."

Currently, the pulses from pacemakers are set at a constant rate when fitted which doesn't replicate the natural beating of the human heart. The new device makes use of synthetic neural technology to restore this variation of heart rate with lung inflation and is targeted at patients who have suffered heart failure.

The device works by saving heart energy, improving its pumping efficiency and enhancing blood flow to the heart muscles itself. The research team has already patented the technology.

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