(HealthDay News) – An experimental device about half the size of the batteries currently used in implantable devices can harness enough energy from a beating heart to generate adequate power to run a pacemaker.

To develop a nonlinear piezoelectric harvester that could power a pacemaker without the need for batteries, which need surgical replacement every five to 10 years, M. Amin Karami, PhD, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues analyzed echocardiographic images of adult cardiac wall motion to estimate heartbeat-induced vibrations. The vibrations were then reproduced in the lab using a mechanical shaker.

The researchers found that, when mounted on the shaker, the nonlinear piezoelectric harvester could generate more than 10 times the power required for typical pacemaker functions over heart rates ranging from 20–600 beats per minute. The performance was better than linear harvesters, which work only at a particular heart rate.

“Many of the patients are children who live with pacemakers for many years,” Karami said in a statement. “You can imagine how many operations they are spared if this new technology is implemented.”

More Information