High blood pressure - a common medical condition. With a little help from the body, a new pacemaker can bring it down.
A recent study found that almost half the people in Germany have elevated blood pressure. In recent years a method known as baroreflex stimulation has been developed. It uses a pacemaker to lower blood pressure, and can help patients whose pressure remains high despite medication.
It stimulates pressure-sensitive baroreceptors via an electrode attached to the carotid artery. When stimulated, the receptors tell the brain that the pressure is high, and that triggers a response to lower it. The greater the stimulation of the baroreceptors, the greater the effect on blood pressure.
Our studioguest is Prof. Philipp Stawowy, a cardiologist at the German Heart Institute in Berlin.
Can mental functioning be enhanced through training? Research projects in Berlin, Würzburg and Mainz are exploring this complex field. Participants in the experiments do exercises and puzzles and play games, with tests before and after tracking changes in performance.
Some improvements in performance correlate with changes seen in brain scans. In the elderly, regular, strenuous training has been shown to slow down shrinkage of the brain.
An experiment is being conducted on a North Sea shrimp trawler that is fitted with one ordinary net and one new and special one. The ordinary one damages the seabed and traps lots of by-catch.
The new one is gentler on the seafloor and uses electrical impulses to make the shrimp jump into the net while leaving fish unmoved. The study aims to establish whether the new method is more economical and more ecologically friendly than traditional trawling methods.