at Leeds are developing an ultrasonic blanket,
to wrap around weak or damaged hearts and
help them carry on beating.
device uses tiny ultrasonic motors linked
to an ECG to squeeze the heart in time to
its natural beat, slowing down during sleep,
and working harder during exercise. The motors
are similar to those used on the autofocus
of certain cameras, but, unlike electric motors,
they can be scaled down to a very small size,
with no problems of excessive heat.
researchers hope to join many of these motors
together in one blanket, and it
could prove a lifeline to people whove
suffered a stroke, or whose hearts are weakened
by heart disease, still working, but not pumping
as they should.
blanket would wrap around the heart, just
touching the tissue but, unlike other devices
which help the heart to pump, not in direct
contact with the blood, said lead researcher
Dr Peter Walker (below). Pacemakers
electrically stimulate the heart to beat,
but our device would work mechanically, allowing
the heart muscle time to rest and even, in
some cases, repair itself.
researchers have built their first motor,
and are now designing a much smaller version.
They will be testing the motors speed
and force, to ensure the movement is as close
as possible to the muscles of the heart. The
work is funded by the Leeds-based charity,
the National Heart Research Fund.
research Peter Walker and the test
rig to simulate the interaction between the
heart and heart blanket