Artificial Cardiac Pacemaker
Artificial Cardiac Pacemaker improves quality of lives and saves lives
Since ancient times, people have viewed the human heart as more than a physical component of the body. The heart is thought to be the source of emotion, the seat of the soul, and the hub of each person’s existence. For several years, researchers, and doctors left the organ unexplored and untouched for fear that it is too fragile, and too critical to withstand the severities of surgery. It was until the researchers saw the potential of saving lives and improving the quality of life that they started exploring the heart. From then, dedicated researchers have invented many significant medical technologies, but the most important is the artificial cardiac pacemaker. The research paper will investigate whether an artificial cardiac pacemaker improves quality of life and saves lives of patients with heart-related problems or not.
Through this advancement, scientists have greatly improved the quality of life of many people around the world (Kirk, 2001). It was while at NRC studying hypothermia that John Hopps acquired the microwave and high-frequency heating skills that would later lead him to produce the first artificial cardiac pacemaker—a significant device that would save millions of lives. This device is an exceptional example of a fundamental technology that has vastly allowed the advancement of patient-care to be there for more than fifty years and possibly continue for another one hundred and fifty years. Of significance about the technology, is that it perfectly does what it is supposed to do.
Back in the 18th century, medical researchers already apprehended that electrical stimulations contracts muscles. Charles Kite in 1788 described the concept of recovering cardiac arrest patients by using electrical discharges (Kirk, 2001). Early pacemakers were bulky, and powered by external power source, therefore, were too large for implantation into the human body. In 1947, the invention of the transistor paved the way for invention of implantable devices. In an endeavour to cut down on the amount of voltage required to restart the human heart and augment the length of time electronic pacing could be realized, Walton Lillehei produced a pacemaker that had leads directly attached to the heart’s walls. In 1958, a battery was fixed to the power supply, making the artificial pacemaker portable, which permitted patients to be mobile. This as well allowed patients to use the artificial pacemaker continuously as opposed to only for emergencies—still Lillehei’s pacemaker was external (Kirk, 2001).
Wilson Greatbatch and William Chardack were behind the invention of the first implantable artificial pacemaker, which, was first implanted in a patient in 1960. Furman developed the present technique, which involves inserting an artificial cardiac pacemaker. According to Barold et al. (2010), Furman used the method of inserting the leads into a patient’s vein and then stringing them up into the heart’s ventricles. With the leads inserted in the vein, lower voltages were required to regulate the patient’s heartbeat. As of today, approximately two million people are living with an artificial pacemaker in the United States, i.e. one person in every 160 people has an artificial pacemaker (Barold et al., 2010). Nowadays, pacemakers are comfortable and reliable. They help patients to get back to their almost normal lives.
In a normal heart, the pumping action is coordinated by the pacemaker region of the heart in the right atrium, a kind of natural pacemaker that creates electrical impulse. There is a transfer of the created electrical impulse to the atria, causing the atria to contract and pump blood into the ventricles. After close to 150 milliseconds, another transfer of the impulse to the ventricles takes place—they contract and pump blood from the heart. Unfortunately, the natural cardiac pacemaker can malfunction, resulting in abnormal heartbeats. Such arrhythmias can turn out to be very serious, causing heart attacks, blackouts, and to the extreme death.
An artificial electronic cardiac pacemaker is a medical device that uses electrical impulses to regulate the heartbeat. The pacemaker maintains a patient’s adequate heart rate. An artificial pacemaker consists of the pacing wire and the computer component. The computer component consists of the battery for the power source and the required programmable electronic parts. The pacing wire forwards the patient’s impulses from the computer component whenever a patient’s heart needs the impulses as determined by the predefined discharge rate. The gadget’s components are tremendously flexible to withstand any bending and twisting caused by body movements. When using the artificial pacemaker, a few mouse-clicks deliver customized information and permit patient tailored functionality.
A few weeks after implantation of the device, majority of the patients resume normal life and forget about the device. A specialist checks the device regularly. After enduring the initial checks, the patient only returns to the specialist for an annual check to measure the strength of the impulse, to monitor the battery’s life, and to monitor the device’s discharge rate. Thus, a patient’s lifestyle is not modified to a great degree after the device’s insertion. The only disadvantage in life quality is that a patient cannot engage in activities involving intense magnetic fields, since they may greatly harm the electronics fitted in the device.
Artificial cardiac pacemakers can and prevent death. In reality, pacemakers are an unusual accomplishment, reflecting what can result from prolific research activities among engineers and physicians. From the initial design made in the 1960’s, artificial pacemakers have been implanted millions of patients, therefore, preventing deaths of many patients. Considering the significant importance of artificial pacemakers in today’s medical science, the number of patients depending on the support of the devices as well as the steady development of the implants and their functionality, it appears, that there can not be any negative blow on the society. Pacemakers have been reported to improve the quality of life for many patients. In 2006, Fleischman researched the effect of artificial cardiac pacemaker implantation on the quality of life of 2000 patients (Barold et al., 2010). She noted that patients under study experienced noteworthy improvement in their quality of life after the surgery, mainly in their physical activity. In this study, patients aged below 75 experienced the best improvement in the quality of life.
Biventricular artificial cardiac pacemakers are usually used for patients experiencing heart failure. Coupled with an ICD (implantable cardioverter-defibrillator), an artificial pacemaker is a great life saving blend. The electrical impulse generated by a cardioverter-defibrillator is more powerful than the one generated by a pacemaker. Together, the two prevent a patient’s abrupt death by sending an immediate electric shock to the heart whenever an anomalous heart rhythm is sensed. Pacemakers reduce hospitalizations by 36 percent and reduce death, or mortality rates, by 23 percent (Barold et al., 2010).
Over the past decades, extensive research into entrenched systems for medical applications was conducted. Although much of the research has targeted specific technical problems, advances in the researched areas resulted in embedded solutions that will profoundly affect the society. Underlying most of the developments is the unparalleled improvement of information technology. Some of the resulting gadgets are not only supporting and improving the quality of life—they are even saving several lives a day. Artificial cardiac pacemakers are indubitably one of the triumphant developments in medical science.
Barold, S., Stroobandt, X., & Sinnaeve, F. (2010). Cardiac pacemakers and resynchronization: An illustrated guide, 2nd edition. New York, NY: Wiley-Blackwell.
Kirk, J. (2001). Machines in our hearts: The cardiac pacemaker, the implantable defibrillator, and American health care, 1st edition. Boston: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
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