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This volume is part of the monograph series of the New Liberal Arts Program (1980-1992), a project of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The NLA Program had the goal of assisting in the introduction of quantitative reasoning and concepts of modern technology within liberal education. The Program was based on the conviction that college graduates should have been introduced to both areas if they are to live in the social mainstream and participate in the resolution of policy issues. The Center for Mathematics and Quantitative Education is delighted to make these monographs available.


Pacing the Heart

Kirk Jeffrey
Carleton College

Of all the new medical devices that have come along since World War II, the cardiac pacemaker has probably been the most successful. As of 1991, it is the only artificial device that is fully implanted within the body to manage a basic physiological function. About half a million Americans carry pacemakers today, and 120,000 of the devices are implanted in new patients each year in this country alone.

This monograph falls naturally into two parts. The early sections focus on the invention of different versions of cardiac pacing up through the fully implantable pacemaker. Later sections address a wider range of questions: the rise of the medical devices industryII, further technological advances in pacing since the implantable pacemaker, the advent of medical device regulation in the 1970's, the debates of the 1980's over the cost of medical care in the United States, and the current status of what might broadly be called the cardiac pacing community.

The mathematics in this volume is low level algebra and graphing, although there isn't a lot of it. A developer could use this volume as the basis for further mathematical topics, especially more sophisticated modeling or statistics.

The author has also published a more complete study entitled, Machines in Our Hearts: The Cardiac Pacemaker, the Implantable Defibrillator, and American Health Care. This text is available from, Johns Hopkins University Press.