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11 March 2002

The artificial heart - past, present, and future.

Karolina M Zareba

Med Sci Monit 2002; 8(3): RA72-77 :: ID: 420894


Patients with advanced congestive heart failure have a very high 5-yearmortality despite medical treatment. In such patients, heart transplantation is the treatment of choice.The number of patients awaiting transplantation is several-fold higher than the number of proceduresperformed. Heart transplantation therapy has numerous limitations and is associated with serious complications.The left ventricular assist device is a step towards this goal. It can be attached to the weakened leftventricle to temporarily increase blood flow to the body. The use of left ventricular assist deviceshelps the failing heart to recover and extends the duration over which a patient's heart can wait fora replacement donor heart. This therapy is in use for only up to a few months. The total artificial heart,Jarvik-7, first implanted in 1982, did not succeed due to a poor quality of a patient's life and numerouscomplications leading to death. Recently, a successful implantation of the AbioCor (Abiomed), the firstfully implantable replacement heart, was accomplished. The AbioCor's internal battery system eliminatesthe need for the patient to be permanently immobilized through tubes or wires connected to an externalpower source. Innovative transcutaneous energy transmission permits the recharging of internal batteries.The total artificial heart will require adapting it to different human body sizes as well as furtherimproving its technical features. The total artificial heart is a remedy of the future coming to fruitionright now, giving a chance to numerous heart failure patients by extending and improving their lives.

Keywords: Biocompatible Materials, Equipment Design, Heart Transplantation, Heart Ventricles, Heart, Artificial, Models, Anatomic

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Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750
Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750