Artificial Heart Without ' Lub Hubs'

Published: Thursday, October 30, 2008, 14:23 [IST]
 
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Artificial Heart Without ' Lub Hubs'

There appears to be a ray of hope for the heart patients, as the new artificial heart is all ready to replace the original one.

Doctors at the Texas Heart Institute have joined forces with scientists from the University of Houston in a effort to completely replace the beating human heart with an artificial one that would not make any "lub dubs".

The researchers describe the pulse-less heart as constant flow pumps, which are based on ancient technology whereby Greek mathematician Archimedes first used an elongated screw encased in a tube to raise water from one level to another.

While total artificial replacement hearts like the pulsed Jarvik-7 or AbioCor artificial hearts already exist, they fail after one to two years because of mechanical failures related to the pumping actions. A constant flow pump is much smaller, about the size of a C cell battery, which means they could be placed in a much wider variety of people, even some children.

Ian Frazier, a doctor with the Texas Heart Institute, says that the artificial heart may not perfectly match a natural heart''s activity, but it would perform the same function."For years mankind tried to imitate the way birds fly. We still can''t fly like the birds, but we get around pretty well," Discovery News quoted Frazier, a doctor at the Texas Heart Institute who developed the original constant flow ventricular assist device, as saying.

A constant flow pump should also be more resistant to mechanical failures, meaning that it could last a couple of decades, instead of a couple years. Frazier has revealed that scientists at first will use two pumps working together to produce blood to the rest of the body, and, eventually, one screw-shaped pump could replace both valves.

Scientists aren''t sure what the long-term effects of constant blood pressure might be. A pulse-less patient will also require some changes to medicine, says Matthew Franchek, a biomechanical engineer at the University of Houston who is helping to design the device as a complete heart replacement. "We used to say that the patient is alive and has a pulse," said Franchek, "Now we''ll have to say that they are alive and have flow."

However, Timothy Baldwin, a doctor at the National Institutes of Health, has made it clear that years of studies are required before any constant flow pump replaces the human heart. "I see the potential for constant flow device as a total artificial heart replacement. The research going on right now is just the first step...but 50,000 to 100,000 people could benefit from good circulatory support if we had a device with no safety concerns," said Baldwin.

Topics: cardiologist, heart
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