A breakthrough pacemaker that restores the heart’s naturally irregular beats is set to be tested in heart patients this year, following successful animal trials.
The pacemaker was developed by a group of scientists from the Center for Heart Research at the University of Auckland (Auckland, New Zealand).
“Currently, all pacemakers stimulate the heart metronomically, which means a very regular and regular rhythm. But when you record the heart rate of a healthy individual, you see that it is constantly in motion”, said Professor Julian Paton, Principal Investigator and Director of Manaaki Manawa, the Center for Heart Research at the University of Auckland. “If you analyze the frequencies of your heart rate, you find that heart rate is coupled to your breathing . It increases on inspiration and decreases on expiration, and it is a natural phenomenon in all animals and humans. And we are talking about very ancient animals that were on the planet 430 million years ago.
The group of scientists decided to study the function of this variability. They created a mathematical model that predicted that it saved energy. This led them to wonder why a metronomic heart rate was used in heart failure patients who lacked energy. They asked, “Why don’t we support them with this variability? All patients with cardiovascular disease lose heart rate variability, which is an early sign that something is wrong.
“People with high blood pressure, people with heart failure, their heart rate isn’t modulated by their breathing. It might be a bit, but it’s very, very depressed, very repressed” “We decided to put heart rate variability back into animals with heart failure and see if that did any good.”
Following positive signals in rats, the latest published research involved a large animal model of heart failure. The next steps are on track, with plans to enroll patients in a trial planned for later this year in New Zealand.
University of Auckland