Pacemakers and other implantable cardiac devices used to monitor and treat heart conditions have generally posed one issue — either they are made with rigid materials that can’t move to accommodate a beating heart, or they are made from soft materials that can collect only a limited amount of information.
This, however, may soon no longer be a problem thanks to an international team of researchers that has developed a new cardiac patch from rubbery bioelectronics that can be placed directly on the heart to collect electrophysiological activity, temperature, heartbeat, and other indicators of cardiac health all at the same time.
The medical breakthrough marks the first time that fully rubbery electronic materials have been used for such technology, allowing the device to solve the limitations of previous cardiac implants, which are mainly made out of rigid electronic materials.
“For people who have a heart arrhythmia or a heart attack, you need to quickly identify the problem,” said study lead Dr. Cunjiang Yu, an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Houston. “This device can do that.”
What’s also remarkable about the new device is that it harvests energy from the heart’s beating, enabling it to perform without the need of an external power source. What’s more, in addition to collecting vital information, the patch is also able to offer therapeutic benefits such as electrical pacing and thermal ablation, according to the scientists.