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Dissolving cardiac device monitors, treats heart disease

Soft, wireless implant monitors the heart without requiring removal

Nearly 700,000 people in the United States die from heart disease every year, and one-third of those deaths result from complications in the first weeks or months following a traumatic heart-related event.

To help prevent those deaths, researchers at Northwestern and George Washington (GW) universities have developed a new device to monitor and treat heart disease and dysfunction in the days, weeks or months following such events. And, after the device is no longer needed, it harmlessly dissolves inside the body, bypassing the need for extraction.

About the size of a postage stamp, the soft, flexible device uses an array of sensors and actuators to perform more complicated investigations than traditional devices, such as pacemakers, can accomplish. Not only can it be placed on various sections of the heart, the device also continuously streams information to physicians, so they can remotely monitor a patient’s heart in real time. The device also is highly transparent, allowing physicians to observe specific heart regions to make a diagnosis or provide a treatment.

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