These students designed a waistcoat to restart hearts

A team of students has designed a waistcoat to restart people’s hearts (and if it helps them to look a little more like Benedict Cumberbatch in the process, so much the better.) The aim is to replace standard portable defibrillators, which are given to patients who have had a heart attack and are waiting for surgery to install a pacemaker. Defibrillators work by monitoring the heart rate and delivering a shock when they detect an irregular rhythm.

But Sandya Subramanian and her co-inventors at Johns Hopkins university in the US discovered that there’s a high non-compliance rate for existing wearable defibrillators. According to Co.EXIST, doctors told them this was because the technology is heavy, bulky, and prone to false alarms – not ideal for something that has to be worn 23 hours a day.

So the students came up with a new design (which they confusingly insist on calling a “vest”, because America) made from t-shirt material with pockets at the side. Not only is this lighter than standard designs, it distributes the weight more evenly. It also comes with a wristband that warns patients the defibrillator  is about to go off, so they can shut it down if it’s a false alarm. Sandya plans to keep testing the design and to continue working to bring it to market as quickly as possible when, presumably, it will also be available in pinstripe.

Diane Shipley

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