Pacemaker - History of Pacemaker


Keeping the rhythm is usually a responsibility left to drums, DJs, and musical directors. However, one tiny device is responsible for keeping the beat in an object much more important: the heart.

John Hopps created the first artificial cardiac pacemaker in 1950. His idea was based upon nearly a century of research and proposals by other physicians and scientists. The pacemaker was first proposed in 1889, John Alexander MacWilliams, who published the first experiments showing that electrical pulses applied to the cardiac muscle could stimulate the beating and pumping of the human heart

Continued development on these ideas led to the first pacemaker models used for the treatment of heart conditions. Unfortunately these early models had a major design flaw. They were required to be plugged into a wall outlet, therefore severely restricting the movement of the person wearing them.

Throughout the mid 20th century, the structure and size of the pace maker continued to shrink. Although in 1950, the pacemaker was an entirely external device worn on the skin and plugged into a wall outlet, by 1958 a wearable device had been created by Earl Bakken. Patients with this device wore a small plastic box on their chest, which held and controlled the wiring of the pacemaker.

Modern pacemakers, however, are implanted within the body of the individual. The first implantable pacemakers were also created in the 1950s, and the first was implanted into Arne Larson in 1958. This device only lasted three hours before being replaced by a second device. Throughout his lifetime, Arne's pacemakers were replaced 26 times to keep up with advancing technologies and failing older models. Fortunately, each surgery was a success and Arne, who died at age 86, outlived both the surgeon and inventor!

Today, pacemakers continued to be used throughout the world to treat and cure numerous heart conditions. These devices allow the body's most vital organ to keep its rhythm in order to save and extend the life of the patient for many years.

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