Sticky patch, lifesaver: postage stamp sized device can revolutionize heart disease treatment

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Every year, nearly 700,000 people in the US lose their lives to heart disease.

A big chunk of these deaths – about one-third – happen in the weeks or months after a heart attack or heart surgery.

But imagine a gadget, no bigger than a postage stamp, that could stick to your heart and keep an eye on it, helping to stop these tragedies?

Researchers from Northwestern and George Washington (GW) universities have come up with just that!

Say Hello to Your New Little Helper

Published in the journal Science Advances, their research tells us about a super cool device they’ve made. It’s small, squishy, and sticks right onto the heart.

This little helper is more than just a gadget; it’s like a mini, on-the-spot doctor. It keeps tabs on how the heart is doing, constantly sending updates to the real doctors, who can then step in if they see any trouble brewing.

Best of all? Once it’s done its job, it simply dissolves away inside your body. No need for another operation to take it out!

More Than Just a Heartbeat Monitor

You might be thinking, “Isn’t this just like a pacemaker?” But no, it’s so much more than that. Pacemakers are great at making sure the heart keeps beating at the right pace.

But this little device can do a whole lot more. It doesn’t just check if the heart is beating; it shows how well different parts of the heart are working.

This helps doctors spot any problems and treat them more effectively.

The Brains Behind the Innovation

The people who came up with this genius idea are Igor Efimov, an experimental cardiologist at Northwestern, and Luyao Lu, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at GW. Efimov has been down this road before.

In 2021, he worked with another Northwestern professor, John A. Rogers, to create the world’s first “transient” pacemaker.

Then, earlier this year, Efimov’s team introduced a graphene “tattoo” to help treat irregular heart rhythms. Now, with Lu, he’s pushed the boundary even further.

The Future is Dissolvable

This device has been tested on small animals and is made from materials approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It does its job, then quietly dissolves into harmless substances.

It’s a lot like those stitches that dissolve on their own, which means less risk of infection and no need for another surgery to remove it.

By looking out for potential problems and intervening before they get serious, this tiny heart-monitoring marvel could help prevent many of the deaths that happen in the wake of heart attacks and surgeries.

Heart disease is a big, scary problem, but with innovations like these, we’re taking steps toward a future where we can keep more hearts beating strong.

If you care about heart failure, please read studies about diabetes drug that could revolutionize heart failure treatment, and this drug can be a low-cost heart failure treatment

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies that exercise in middle age reversed worrisome heart failure, and results showing this drug combo can cut risk of stroke and heart attack by half.

The study was published in Science Advances.

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