Heart researchers study bear hibernation

Lily, a black bear in hibernation
Lily, a black bear in hibernation in northern Minnesota, was expected to give birth in the spring of 2010.
Courtesy of the North American Bear Center 2010

Hibernating bears are the focus of researchers from the University of Minnesota the experts at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Researchers are studying the immobility of the bears during hibernation and the fact they lose body fat, but not physical strength.

UMN physiologist Paul Iaizzo tells KMSP-TV that if a patient was hospitalized in intensive care for two or three weeks he or she could lose 50 percent of muscle mass.

Researchers are using a tiny device implanted in the bear's chest to monitor its heart rate, temperature and gauge its overall well-being during hibernation. They hope that can be applied to human heart transplant patients.

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