Your own beating heart may generate enough electricity to power a heart-regulating pacemaker, ending the need for expensive surgeries to replace expiring batteries, according to an early study of an experimental energy-converting device.
Researchers at the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor tested an energy-harvesting device that runs on piezoelectricity - the electrical charge generated from motion, according to the study which was released at the annual American Heart Association scientific conference on Sunday.
The approach is a promising technological solution for pacemakers, because they require only small amounts of power to operate, said M. Amin Karami, the study's lead author and a research fellow at the university.
The implanted devices, which send electrical impulses into the heart to help maintain a normal heartbeat, have to be replaced every five to seven years when their batteries run out.
Researchers measured heartbeat-induced vibrations in the chest.
They then used a "shaker" to reproduce the vibrations in the laboratory and connected it to a prototype cardiac energy harvester they developed.