History of Artificial Pacemakers

The history of the creation and development of artificial heart pacemakers

Events

William Einthoven wins the Nobel Prize for the creation of electrocardiography

1924

William Einthoven wins the Nobel Prize for the creation of electrocardiography, beginning the process of identifying problems within the heart. This helps to facilitate the eventual invention of the first pacemaker.

The first artificial pacemaker was invented and used to resuscitate a newborn baby

1926

The first artificial pacemaker was invented by Australian anaesthesiologist Dr Mark Lidwell, and was used to resuscitate a newborn baby at Crown Street Women's Hospital, Sydney. This was not patented by Dr Lidwell and he remained anonymous to avoid public controversy.

Dr Albert Hyman invents manually operated pacemaker and tests it on laboratory animals

1932

Dr Albert Hyman, an American cardiologist invents an artificial pacemaker with his brother Charles. This was powered by a hand cranked motor, and was tested on laboratory animals. The pacemaker revived 14 out of 43 animals. Hyman did not publish his experiments of artificial pacemakers on humans, and many people thought this device was interfering with nature.

First external artificial pacemaker is developed at the University of Toronto

1951

John Alexander Hopps developed the world's first external artificial pacemaker in 1951 at the University of Toronto. It was used to successfully paced a dog's heart. This pacemaker needed to be plugged into power points. Hopps' work led to the use of cardiac pacemakers in humans and helped establish the importance of electronic devices in medicine.

Arne Larsson receives the first fully implanted pacemaker in a secret emergency operation.

1958

Arne Larsson receives the first fully implanted pacemaker in a secret emergency operation. This pacemaker was developed by Dr Rune Elmqvist. Because of lack of time, he coated the components of the first device with epoxy resin in a plastic cup. Two electrodes connected to the pacemaker provided to energy to stimulate the heart. The first device had to be replaced after just a few hours, however Arne Larsson lived a further 43 years with a total of 26 pacemakers. This showed that pacemakers could be implanted within humans, and paved the way for commercially available pacemakers.

First variable rate pacemaker is developed and implanted

1960 - 1966

Cardiothoracic surgeon Leon Abrams, with medical engineer Ray Lightwood, developed and implanted the first variable rate pacemaker in 1960. The first implant of this device took place in March 1960, with two further implants taking place in April 1960. By 1966, 56 patients had received implants.

First lithium-ion battery powered pacemaker is implanted

1972

The first implanted pacemaker using a lithium-ion battery. The lithium-ion battery is the most common type of battery used in pacemakers because of its reliability and lifespan, as most lithium-ion batteries can last 10 years or longer in a cardiac pacemaker.

First series of programmable pacemakers is released by cardiovascular health company 'Cordis'

1973

The Cardiovascular health company, Cordis, release the first series of pacemakers that are programmable through computing chips. This allows a more tailored treatment to patients as pacemakers can now be monitored and altered by doctors.

First pacemakers using integrated circuits were created

1986

The first pacemakers using integrated circuits were created. The integrated circuits were the key technology of the pacemaker, as they sensed heart rhythms and sent out signals to stimulate the heart when needed during abnormal activity.