What's the Latest Development?
A California startup, Nanostim, has created a wireless pacemaker that is the first of its kind to be approved for sale in the European Union. The tiny device -- "about the size and shape of a AAA battery" -- is inserted via a catheter that's threaded through the femoral artery, and is attached directly to the heart muscle where it can provide electrical stimulation. Nanostim was recently acquired by St. Jude Medical, which will put the device through more trials before submitting it for US Food and Drug Administration approval.
What's the Big Idea?
Over 4 million people around the world wear pacemakers to help regulate their heart rhythms, and 700,000 receive new ones each year. The Nanostim pacemaker can be inserted, removed, and replaced much more easily and quickly than a traditional pacemaker, which requires surgically opening a patient's chest. Also, the wires used to connect traditional devices to the heart muscle can move or fracture over time. Faulty wires have prompted recalls of some St. Jude Medical models in the past.
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