Deadly bacteria could grow on cardiac implants, study finds

28 October 2011

Cardiac devices implanted in surgery could cause potentially fatal blood infections, a new study has shown.

Researchers have suggested that some patients receiving implanted devices such as a pacemaker could have bacterial cells in their body which may mutate and stick to the device, building up an infection which could travel with the bloodstream.

The National Academy of Sciences published the study by a group of geoscientists at the National Science Federation online earlier this week.

Enriqueta Barrera, programme director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the research, said: "Geobiologists, key to these results, use atomic force microscopy to study the forces with which bacteria adhere to mineral surfaces."

She added that the scientists used information on the strength with which the proteins of infectious bacteria adhere to cardiac implants to gain a better understanding of how to eventually prevent deadly infections occurring.

Patients with implants can develop infections due to a biofilm of persistent bacteria on the surfaces of their devices. This could lead to common types of bacteria mutating into life-threatening infections.

A pacemaker uses electrical impulses, delivered by electrodes contacting the heart muscles, to regulate the beating of the heart.

Posted by Philip Briggs

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