Health Buzz: Pacemaker Powered By Heartbeat, Not Batteries

Try one of these quirky stress-busters; 10 tips to survive the season of gluttony

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New Heartbeat-Powered Pacemaker Could Save Patients From Frequent Operations

University of Michigan researchers have unveiled a pacemaker prototype that's powered by a heartbeat in lieu of batteries. The prototype pacemaker, which is smaller than a penny, runs on piezoelectricity—the electrical charge generated by motion, reports Daily Mail. Researchers in Michigan's Department of Aerospace Engineering stumbled upon the concept when looking into a possible unmanned aircraft that could be powered by the vibration of its own wings. They then tested that concept for a pacemaker, by connecting simulated heartbeat-induced vibrations to a prototype cardiac energy harvester. After trying a wide range of simulated heartbeats, Daily Mail reports the test showed that the energy harvester generated  more than 10 times the power required by modern pacemakers. The British Heart Foundation said the device needs clinical trials to show it would be safe for patients, reports BBC. If the prototype turns out to be safe, researchers believe it could eliminate the need for operations to replace worn out pacemaker batteries—surgeries that happen every five to seven years. "Many of the patients are children who live with pacemakers for many years," lead author Armin Karami, a postdoctoral research fellow at University of Michigan, told Daily Mail. "You can imagine how many operations they are spared if this new technology is implemented."

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  • Try One of These Quirky Stress-Busters

    So stressed you could scream—loudly and wildly, while kicking and punching, or maybe wilting to the ground in a heap? Yeah, we get it: It seems to be going around. Americans' stress levels are nearly two times higher than what's considered safe. And the complications are enough to fray anyone's nerves: suppressed immune system; high blood pressure; elevated risk of stomach acid and ulcers; headaches, backaches, and neck-aches; colds; and even cancer. Stress is also linked to shortening of the telomeres, protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that shorten each time a cell dies. Research suggests that we want our telomeres to be as long as possible, because length is associated with a lower risk of developing cancer and heart disease, as well as a longer life.

    "Everyone is stressed, and we've begun to think of that as normal, because we've gotten used to it," says psychotherapist Robert Friedman, author of How to Relax in 60 Seconds or Less. "We sometimes try to pretend it isn't there, but stress is a hidden killer."

    Friedman, who's been teaching stress-management techniques since 1993, highlights three primary stressors: environmental, social, and physical. But worst of all? Our thoughts. He's gotten to know a number of "stress hearty" folks who don't get frazzled at all and, as a result, enjoy healthier lives. "They've learned that they can't control the environment—but what they can control is their reaction to it," he says. "They use stress as a positive, and they actually look forward to it, because they know they can learn to deal with it. And then the next time, they won't have the same negative reaction."

    That's the end goal, of course. But in the meantime? Try one of these unique stress-busters to cool down when you feel like you're going out of your mind:

    1. Blow up a balloon: Your body needs oxygen to relax—and when you're stressed, you're likely to take short, shallow breaths. [Read more: Try One of These Quirky Stress-Busters]

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    • 10 Tips to Survive the Season of Gluttony

      We've officially entered the season of gluttony—that period of time that begins with Halloween, and ends sometime around New Year's (or perhaps Valentine's Day). Candy bowls line countertops, cocktail parties fill the calendar, cool weather calls for all kinds of baking, and exercise is pushed off our crazy to-do lists. Many people end up gaining weight around this time of year, and studies indicate that these extra pounds tend to stay put, writes U.S. News blogger Melinda Johnson. This season, arm yourself with these 10 tips to avoid the holiday weight creep: