The kind of pacemaker most people are familiar with attaches to someone’s heart and sends electrical pulses to keep the heart beating in a regular rhythm. The pacemaker revealed by medical scientists in Europe would attach to someone’s stomach. The electrical pulses would then stimulate the muscles of the stomach and make the person feel full.
According to media reports at various news sources, the device is only in the testing stages and would only be available in Europe for the time being. The device was revealed by the chief of surgery, Thomas Horbach, at Stadtkrankenhaus Schwabach. He also showed one of the test subjects who had had the device implanted.
The test subject is a man named Patrick Hetzner. Hetzner is on obese man who had tried numerous other methods for losing weight, all with limited success. Since he has had the device implanted he has lost more than 22 pounds.
The device was approved by the British medical community last month. Soon the device will be available across Europe.
According to Hetzner, the device kicks on shortly after he starts eating. The stimulator then works very much like a cardiac pacemaker. It sends out electrical pulses to the stomach muscles. Hetzner states that it has been his experience that he ends up eating about half of the amount of food he would normally eat without the device.
The device is manufactured by a U.S. firm called Intrapace. The device has been implanted in about 65 patients so far. About half of those have now had the device for a year and most have reported a loss of about 20 percent of their body weight.
The idea of a stomach pacemaker is not entirely new. There are other devices already on the market but they help patients handle things like nausea and vomiting. This would be the first specifically marketed toward helping people lose weight and controlling their appetites.
The idea behind it is that appetite, at least in part, is controlled by nerves around the stomach that send signals to the brain and lets the brain know when it is full. This pacemaker attaches in such a way that it taps into that communication system between the stomach and brain. It then sends out impulses that the brain interpret as signals that the stomach is full.