Ultrasound 'can be an effective means of controlling heartbeat'

Engineering

A new study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology has demonstrated the effectiveness of ultrasound in increasing the rate at which heart cells beat.

The Drexel University research aimed to determine the ultrasound intensity and pulse duration that could influence heart cells with the greatest effectiveness, using a custom-made ultrasound probe to deliver ultrasonic waves to cells.

“A new study has outlined the potential benefits of using ultrasound as the basis for a noninvasive pacemaking device.“

It was found that the lowest intensity tested, 0.02 W/cm2, given in one msec-long pulses every 300 msec, increased the beat frequency of neonatal rat cardiac cells most effectively.

This opens the door for the development of ultrasound-based acute cardiac pacing systems for use in temporary pacing applications for both emergency and non-emergency settings.

Since such technology would be located outside the body, it would avoid many of the risks inherent to using transvenous pacemakers and surgically-placed epicardial leads.

The researchers concluded: "Ultrasound-induced stimulation of cardiomyocytes may prove to be a practical, noninvasive clinical tool for capturing and pacing the myocardium in both emergent and non-emergent settings."

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