Archive for the ‘innovations in cardiology’ Category

PCI and coronary stents are revolutionary concepts  but they may not be  great life saving devices  . . . though the collective cardiology wisdom may seem to suggest so !


The ideal way to describe a stent could be “Its a metal coil , if inserted properly in certain population of severely obstructive forms coronary artery disease may save some lives in acute situations  or give relief to pain in non acute situations”

*While the true benefits for the patient population is unsure . . . it’s absolutely certain stents  confer highest  quality of life to the  manufacturers and their chain of associates including the Noble professionals !


I wonder , what would be his comment about ubiquitous stents that rule the current era !

Learnt cardiologist’s  will know the true life saving potential of these stents (In the way its been currently used ) Their conscience will also tell how Inappropriate and Indiscriminate usage of stents has possibly consumed more human lives that may even beat the number of lives saved .(Oh, Its wild, rude statement  friend!)

I sincerely believe the move by Government of India to control the stent price ( to enable all our countrymen to get it)  . . . as if  “stents are the only staple diet” for heart patients is ill-founded and dangerous .

What the Government may not be aware of  is  . . .This 45000 crore omnipresent stent  industry is playing havoc in the life of patients not only financially  but also biologically to harm their blood vessels.

It is near foolish to tackle the scourge of human beings -Atherosclerosis,   a diffuse medical disease with a lesion specific intervention .This is especially true when we want to tackle it in population based approach . Yes, some super rich and elite  get sophisticated stents thinking that they are privileged .Please understand  rich tend to suffer more  with technology. Often times non affordability is also a bliss for the poor .(Rubbish ,won’t agree  . . . Is it , will realise later !)

Who will tell this to our  policy makers ?

Never ape the private sector health care , states must have different priorities.There are Infinite number of studies that  very clearly reveal medical management and life style modification is the sure and successful way to tackle CAD.(I think I need not dwell into this as evidence is explicit .)

Meanwhile, let me give one example of  the futility of innovation and perils of premature release of half baked science .While one section of Industry is coming out with stents made up of exotic new metals , simultaneously other group is innovating and experimenting the exactly opposite , how to get rid of the metal ie bioreabsorable stents. Mind you, one of the latest generation stents was severely reprimanded in a Landmark trial ABSORB 2. Its a comical irony some of the hospitals and cardiologists  feel bad  to miss this red flagged stent that are taken out of their cath lab because of price cap. ( A pat for the Govt for this !)

Its a multi billion dollar Industry (Note : there is no pardon for Indian companies to exploit either !) trying to disseminate a commercially motivated concept intelligently including the stake holder Government in their loop. The move to liberalise stent usage is  most unfortunate thing  as the Govt has  inadvertently increased the risk of abuse .Let the new age Indian not be proud  about “Stent for all ” movement since the  Govt will ultimately  have to shell  out for this imperfect therapeutics through public insurance .

Final message 

Though capping the price of the stent by Government  do carry  some sense  . . . ultimately      I feel its a trap . It’s akin to let loose a dubious  modality in public domain within easy reach . Already the companies want to increase per capita metal consumption. That process will only get accelerated now.

The Government must realise there is an urgent &  broader issue to be addressed by health ministry.Its not only in cardiology but in all walks of health delivery system. How to prevent “contamination of  medical science by pseudo scientific intervention fueled by corporate greed ? They should start  sensitizing the young medical professionals in medical schools that will help the Noble profession remain Noble !

Read Full Post »

Artificial pacemaker is one of the major discoveries in cardiology that has given new lease of life to patients suffering from serious bradycardia and heart blocks . Now, the technology has grown beyond pacing , for delivering shock ,defibrillate , resynchronise failing heart etc. For accomplishing  all these tasks we need electrical power . . . non stop on board !

Though , the energy required for sustaining an electric pacemaker is miniscule (About 40 micro watts) still, the lithium ion battery can last only around  10 years with the available technology.Various alternate sources for power* are being  explored. One great innovation is on the horizon .A new “scientific spark”  came from a totally unexpected  quarter.

 If Automatic Swiss watch can run without a battery  life long ?  Why not a cardiac  pacemaker  ?

 How about harvesting mechanical energy from the heart itself  ? (The ultimate biological bundle of energy ! ) .

The concept was  originally suggested by University of Berne Switzerland , researchers from Stanford has successfully used the cardiac  muscle activity as a dynamo to generate and store minute amount of electricity that can sustain heartbeats in an electro  mechanical coil loop model.


A person’s heartbeat  moves a magnet and generate electricity for a pacemaker


Trials done on pig’s heart are promising .(Reference 1)

Final message 

The idea may look dramatic , but it works.Hope  it becomes reality in our patients in near future.

Further reading

* Creating gene modified  biological pacemaker cell is .

Sharing this  article from  Via: New Scientist

By Lisa Zyga
Science Blogger

  At first glance, this idea seems somewhat impossible, like using the movement of an engine’s pistons to power a car. However, researchers David Tran and his colleagues from Stanford University explain in a recent patent that the idea is very plausible. For one thing, a heart-powered pacemaker can generate and store more electricity than required to operate, and use the stored energy when needed. Also, a battery could be included in the pacemaker, and power from the heart would extend the life of the battery.

Overall, the researchers hope that the invention could at least double the lifetime of today’s pacemakers. Currently, the batteries in pacemakers can last up to ten years, although they typically last only four to five years. (Originally, batteries lasted for as little as a year.)

The invention also has the potential to reduce the size of the pacemaker by one-half or more. For example, a typical commercial pacemaker with a volume of 16 milliliters may be reduced in overall size to as small as 1-8 milliliters.

An embedded generator could continuously produce power in several ways, such as through electromagnetic induction or the piezoelectric effect (electric energy generated via mechanical stress).

In the Stanford team’s design, the generator is implanted near the heart wall, such as attached to the myocardium or pericardium, which would subject the generator to regular pulsating movements produced by the beating heart.

The generator itself consists of a magnet, a conductor (both micro- or even nano-sized), and electrical leads hooked up to the medical device. Contraction of the heart muscle causes relative motion between the magnet and the conductor (such as a coil of wire). This relative motion between the magnetic and coil induces an electric current in the wire, which is transmitted through the leads to the implanted pacemaker.

Movements produced by the beating heart would have a frequency of between about 0.5 Hz and 2 Hz, which could generate between 40 microwatts and 200 microwatts of power. The pacemaker would only require about 40 microwatts, so the excess power could be stored and used for later use, such as when the heart stops beating.

Besides using the movement generated by the muscular contractions of the heart, other versions of the pacemaker could generate power from heat differentials, physiological pressures, and flows and movements, such as blood flow. And in addition to pacemakers, the researchers suggest that similar systems could be used to power defibrillators, ventricular assist devices, muscle , neurological stimulators, cochlear implants, monitoring devices, and drug pumps.



Read Full Post »