New Inflatable Device Targets Heart Disease

U.S. researchers say a new technology can safely place sensitive electronics inside the human heart for better diagnosis of heart rhythm irregularities. Scientists have successfully integrated stretchable electronics technology with standard endocardial balloon catheters, one of the most common, least-invasive devices for cardiac procedures, a University of Illinois release said Monday. The catheters are long, flexible tubes with balloons at the end that, when in place, can inflate and gently press against the surrounding tissue to open blood vessels or valves.

Currently, many heart rhythm disorders use catheters with electrodes at the end for detecting and mapping arrhythmias and for ablation — selectively killing small patches of cells that beat off-rhythm. The procedures involve two separate, rigid catheter devices — one that maps the heart and one with an electrode at the end that ablates spots identified as aberrant, one at a time.

The new device can perform both functions over large areas of the heart simultaneously with stretchable, integrated arrays of sensors and electrodes.

Greater incidence of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases due to an increase in the aging population and unhealthy habits are driving the demand for cardiology products. With the population over the age of 65 expected to grow by 50 percent in the next 30 years, the market is poised for greater growth. The cardiovascular sector is the largest and fastest growing medical device market in the world. Companies making advancements in the field of cardiology include, but are not limited to ADS Biotechnology, Advanced Cell Technology, Cambridge Heart, CardioInsight, Cardium Therapeutics, Castlewood Surgical, Cytori Therapeutics, diaDexus, IntelGenx, Intellewave, Interface Biologics, Jan Medical, JenaValve, Lonestar Heart, Minnow Medical, Miracor Medical Systems, nContact Surgical, NeoChord, NeoVasc, QuantumCor, Stentys, and Velomedix.


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