Cardiovascular diseases are a major cause of morbidity and mortality world-wide with sudden cardiac death caused by cardiac arrhythmias taking thousands of lives every year. For a lack of a better strategy, high-energy shocks are the only means to terminate life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias. High-energy shocks, however, may have significant side-effects including traumatic pain, tissue damage, worsening patients' prognosis, indicating a significant medical need. This is true in particular for patients with chronic heart disease that depend on implantable Cardioverter/Defibrillators (ICDs).
To address the unmet medical need, Low-Energy Anti-Fibrillation Pacing (LEAP) is a technology developed by the applicants that aims at gentle and painless termination of cardiac arrhythmias. LEAP is based on a fundamentally different approach to terminate life-threatening arrhythmias. It was awarded the 2008 Innovation Prize for Medical Technology by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. While standard defibrillators use a single, high-energy electric shock to stop the propagation of all excitation waves throughout the myocardium, LEAP targets rotor-like excitation waves, the sources of arrhythmia. Using this approach, LEAP requires significantly lower energies than conventional technology. Due to the significant energy reduction, it we expect that the LEAP ICD
- will be considerably gentler than previous products and, at best, completely painless
- will significantly reduce side effects and sustainably improve the quality of life of patients with heart disease,
- will cause significantly less tissue damage than previous ICDs.
The EKFS-funded project cardioLEAP aims at further optimizing LEAP technology towards successful clinical translation.
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