Scientists want to power pacemakers with energy from your heart

A pacemaker that stays charged could save patients from battery replacement surgeries.

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Pacemakers typically need new batteries every five to 10 years. 

Getty Images

People with pacemakers may not need to undergo surgery to replace the battery, if early research pans out.

Researchers at Dartmouth College are working on a thin polymer applied to existing pacemakers that could harvest the heart's mechanical energy to charge the battery, a study released last month has reported. Otherwise, the typical lifespan of a pacemaker battery is five to 10 years, according to the nonprofit John Hopkins Medicine. 

The modified device has gone through a first round of animal studies, and researchers are looking at a five-year time frame for getting it out to humans, according to the MIT Technology Review

"We are now working hard to improve its efficacy and multi-functionality in hope for its commercialization in the next several years," said Zi Chen, one of the authors of the study, via email. 

First published Feb. 6 at 7:27 a.m. PT.
Update, 9:20 a.m. PT: Adds comment from researcher.