News Column

A pacemaker revolution

June 26, 2014

Siobhan Stayt; SiobhanStayt Education reporter @SiobhanStayt

Researchers from the University of Bath are helping develop a new type of pacemaker which could revolutionise the lives of more than 750,000 people in the UK.

The team, which is working in partnership with the University of Bristol, has been given funding from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) for the work involving a pacemaker which synchronises the patient's heart rate with their breathing.

In contrast to the current technology, which sees the pulse set a constant rate, the new system would better replicate the way a healthy heart works. In turn, this would save the heart energy, improve its pumping efficiency and enhance blood flow to the heart muscle. Pre-clinical trials suggest the device could extend the life of patients with heart failure.

Senior physics lecturer at Bath, Dr Alain Nogaret, said one aim of the project was to develop a pacemaker which was as small as a postage stamp and an implant which could be used in humans within the next five years.

He said: "This is a multidisciplinary project with strong translational value.

"By combining fundamental science and nanotechnology we will be able to deliver a unique treatment for heart failure which is not currently addressed by mainstream cardiac rhythm management devices." The research team is now working with NHS consultants at the Bristol Heart Institute, the University of California at San Diego and the University of Auckland.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the BHF, said: "This study is a novel and exciting first step towards a new generation of smarter pacemakers. More and more people are living with heart failure so our funding in this area is crucial. The work from this innovative research team could have a real impact on heart failure patients' lives in the future."

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Source: Bath Chronicle (England)

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