Minneapolis-based Sunshine Heart Inc. is in the final stages of a 20-patient feasibility test of an early version of an implantable wireless device to ease the heart's pumping load.

The C-Pulse Heart Assist System, when fully developed, will include an implanted driver (engine) and a cuff placed around the ascending aorta that inflates and deflates in synchronization with the heartbeat. A battery pack worn by the patient will power the driver by using a high-frequency electromagnetic field to transfer electricity through the skin without wires.

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