Electronics technology holds promise to become very effective in saving lives of people by preventing cardiac arrest by means of an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) that, in the case of an arrest event being detected, will provide an electrical discharge able to restart the electrical activity of the affected heart:
“An ICD is a battery-powered device placed under the skin that keeps track of your heart rate. Thin wires connect the ICD to your heart. If an abnormal heart rhythm is detected the device will deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heartbeat if your heart is beating chaotically and much too fast. ICDs have been very useful in preventing sudden death in patients with known, sustained ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation. Studies have shown that they may have a role in preventing cardiac arrest in high-risk patients who haven't had, but are at risk for, life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias ” (Source: American Heart Association(ICD))
Contribution from electronics technology for the realization of such a preventive system is huge, as it appears from the block diagram of Figure 1.
The block diagram of an ICD sense amplifier (Source: American Heart Association)
Recently a new subcutaneous defibrillator has been introduced on the market; this new device has an interesting new feature: it is placed under the skin of the patient and it can easily be replaced in case of malfunctions due to aging of the components, as an example:
“An implantable cardioverter defibrillator is designed to monitor and treat heart rhythm problems, greatly reducing the risks associated with them. There are risks associated with this device including, but not limited to, allergic reactions, bleeding, death, fever, infection, kidney failure, need for surgical replacement, nerve damage, stroke and tissue damage.” (Source: Boston Scientific)
Modern day medical electronics offers multiple solutions to monitor heart rate, one of the more interesting and well-diffused applications of this type is the ECG; there are integrated circuits able to monitor, in real time, the hearts electrical activity. One example is the ADAS1000-4 made by Analog Devices (see Figure 2):
The block diagram of ADAS1000-4 an integrated IC able to detect human heart rate and respiration pace. (Source: Analog Devices)
Another recent step in the direction of electronics applied to heart monitoring has been recently achieved (see Figure 3):
“ActLight presented the next generation Heartrate Sensor for wearables, featuring a remarkable 80% reduction in power consumption compared to what is currently available on the market, and still delivering the same performance. The Heart rate sensor is based on ActLight’s proprietary Dynamic PhotoDiode (DPD) technology and has been developed in co-operation with a global MedTech semiconductor vendor and École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).” (Source: ACTLIGHT)
The new heartrate sensor made by ActLight (Source: Act Light)
Do you think electronics technology will help to save human lives by continuously monitoring the heart activity of the user? Do you like this possible utilization of this technology?