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Articles about Swedish inventions / innovations

Pacemaker  - the box that saves lives every day

​More than 3 million heart patients in the world can today live a good life thanks to a Swedish invention. And in Sweden, about 44,000 people use this small device. The pacemaker is today an obvious and life-sustaining helper for many heart patients, but this has not always been the case.

An implantable pacemaker is a Swedish invention that makes it possible for millions of people to live one
normal life. The first pacemaker to be operated on had been manufactured by the Swedish doctor and engineer
Rune Elmqvist.

    One of the world's most famous patients of all time was named Arne Larsson. He was born in 1915 and suffered from a heart rhythm disorder called Strokes-Adam syndrome, which often led to fainting - sometimes up to 20-30 times a day. On October 8, 1958, he became the first in the world to have a pacemaker implanted in his body.

    The pacemaker used had been manufactured by the Swedish doctor and engineer Rune Elmqvist. His implantable pacemaker became possible thanks to a novelty from the USA - the silicon transistor. Rune Elmqvist cast the silicon transistors and a durable battery as well as bendable and durable electrodes in a plastic box. Chief physician Åke Senning at Karolinska Institutet operated on the device, which was as big as a matchbox, in Arne Larsson's chest.

Pacemaker 1.jpg

    The operation was successful, but after only three hours, the pacemaker stopped. However, Rune Elmqvist had made another copy which was operated on the next morning and which lasted for a week. During his lifetime, Arne Larsson had no less than 26 different pacemakers. He died in 2001 of causes other than heart problems and had then survived both Elmqvist and Senning.

    Today, more than 3 million heart patients in the world can live a good life thanks to the pacemaker. In Sweden, about 44,000 people use pacemakers.

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