Pacemakers and other implantable cardiac devices used to monitor and treat arrhythmias and other heart problems are wonders of medical technology.
However, they generally had one of these two disadvantages – they are either made of rigid materials that cannot move to accommodate a beating heart, or they are made of soft materials that can only collect a limited amount of information.
Researchers at University of Houston they created a patch made of fully rubberized electronics that can be placed directly on the heart to collect electrophysiological activity, temperature, heart rate and other indicators, all at the same time.
The device saves you, and you “save” it
Cunjiang Yu, Bill D. Cook, associate professor of mechanical engineering at UH and author of the paper, said the device marks a premiere of bioelectronics developed from fully rubberized electronic materials compatible with heart tissue.
In this way, the device is able to solve the limitations of previous cardiac implants, which are made mainly of rigid electronic materials.
“For people who have a cardiac arrhythmia or have a heart attack, you need to quickly identify the problem,” Yu said. “This device can do that.”
In addition to the ability to simultaneously collect information from multiple locations on the heart – a feature known as spatio-temporal mapping – the device can harvest energy from the heartbeat, allowing it to function without an external power source.
This allows it not only to track data for diagnosis and monitoring, but also to offer therapeutic benefits, such as electrical stimulation and thermal ablation, the researchers reported.
Yu is a leader in the development of fully rubberized electronic products with detection and other biological capabilities, including for use in hands, skins and other robotic devices.
Epicardial bioelectronic patches are based on materials with mechanical properties that mimic heart tissue, allowing for a tighter interface and reducing the risk of the implant affecting the heart muscle.
“Unlike bioelectronics based mainly on rigid materials with mechanical structures that can stretch at the macroscopic level, the construction of bioelectronics from materials with modules that match those of biological tissues suggests a promising path to next-generation bioelectronics and biosensors that do not have difficult hardness – easy interface for the heart and other organs “, the researchers wrote.
“Our epicardial patches are capable of multiplexed ECG mapping, voltage and temperature detection, electrical rhythm, thermal ablation and energy harvesting,” the authors concluded.