Researchers have developed a new device to treat heart disease in patients that allows remote monitoring and real-time streaming of information to physicians. The postage stamp-size electronic device, designed to outperform traditional cardiac devices such as pacemakers, dissolves harmlessly inside the body after the period of treatment.

The new device developed by researchers from Northwestern and George Washington Universities has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"Current post-surgical monitoring and treatment of these complications require more sophisticated technology than currently available. We hope our new device can close this gap in technology. Our transient electronic device can map electrical activity from numerous locations on the atria and then deliver electrical stimuli from many locations to stop atrial fibrillation as soon as it starts," said Igor Efimov, an experimental cardiologist from Northwestern who co-led the study.

It is estimated that around 700,000 people die from heart disease every year in the U.S. Around one-third of the deaths are from complications in the first weeks or months following the onset of the disease, making monitoring after a cardiac incident highly essential.

"Many deaths that occur following heart surgery or a heart attack could be prevented if doctors had better tools to monitor and treat patients in the delicate weeks and months after these events take place. The tool developed in our work has great potential to address unmet needs in many programs of fundamental and translational cardiac research," co-lead Luyao Lu said.

The highly transparent device can be placed in various sections of the heart, allowing physicians to examine the specific regions and provide treatment. Researchers believe the invention would help in the future treatment of serious cardiac complications, including atrial fibrillation and heart block, and follow cardiac surgeries or catheter-based therapies.

The absorbable nature of the device makes it more efficient as it reduces the cost and risk of infection related to extraction.

"Similar to absorbable stitches, the device degrades and then completely disappears through the body's natural biological processes. the device's bioresorbable nature could reduce healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes by avoiding complications from surgical extraction and lowering infection risks," the researchers said.