Rechargeable silver-modified mercuric oxide-zinc cell for cardiac pacemakers

Am J Cardiol. 1976 Nov 4;38(5):607-10. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9149(76)80010-0.


Tests were conducted on rechargeable mercury-zinc pacemaker batteries under simulated and actual biologic conditions, using a variety of discharge rates and charging schedules. In tests on 96 cells at a 6.4 milliampere (ma) discharge, recharging once every 15 months of simulated pacing at a 25 microampere (mua) drain, the earliest cell failure occurred after an equivalent of 50 years of pacing. The mean pacing equivalent for all 96 cells was more than 140 years. In 6.4 ma discharge tests on 24 cells, recharging once every 8 days of simulated pacing, only 1 cell in 24 failed after an equivalent of more than 500 years of pacing (actual time 2 years). In tests on 13 cells pacing at a 200 mua drain without recharging, the simulated mean duration of pacing before total discharge was 4.8 years. Seven other cells at a 200 mua drain with periodic recharging continue to function normally after more than 7 years of actual time, simulating 56 years of pacing at a 25 mua drain. Cardiac pacemakers using the rechargeable mercury-zinc cell have been implanted in animals for more than 2 1/2 years and in patients for more than 1 year with all units continuing to function satisfactorily. It has been demonstrated unequivocally that a rechargeable mercury-zinc pacemaker will function continuously for more than 4 years without recharging and that periodic recharging will extend pacing life far beyond that predicted for lithium and nuclear primary power sources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bioelectric Energy Sources
  • Dogs
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Heart Block / therapy
  • Humans
  • Mercury*
  • Pacemaker, Artificial / instrumentation*
  • Silver*
  • Time Factors
  • Zinc*


  • Silver
  • Mercury
  • Zinc