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Albert Hyman

Albert Hyman was an American cardiologist who invented the artificial pacemaker in the early 1930s. Pacemakers use electrical impulses to regulate the beating of the heart.

Hyman practised as a heart specialist in New York. He began investigating methods to restart ‘stopped hearts’ - hearts that ceased to function because of an accident, electrocution or shock.

First he used drugs to stimulate the heart. But in 1932, Hyman and his brother Charles built a device that used electricity to stimulate a ‘stopped’ heart. It was powered by a spring-wound hand-cranked motor. Hyman tested his artificial pacemaker on laboratory animals. The invention revived 14 out of 43 animals.

Hyman never published his experiments that used artificial pacemakers on humans. Many people thought his device was interfering with nature. Pacemakers did not become accepted as useful medical devices until the 1950s.

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Bibliography

A S Hyman, ‘Resuscitation of the stopped heart by intracardial therapy. Experimental use of an artificial pacemaker’, Archives of Internal Medicine, 50 (1932), pp 283-305

S Furman, K Jeffery and G Szarka, ‘The Mysterious Fate of Hyman's Pacemaker’, Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology, 24/7 (2001), pp 1126-37

Glossary:

Cardiology

The study of diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels.