Researchers at UCI have developed a cardiac assist device for patients with failing heart functions. The device contracts and expands the heart with the help of a pacemaker to help restore natural heart pace and blood flow.
·Avoids blood contact and eliminates need for blood thinners
·No irreversible changes of heart or heart anatomy
·Device failure does not lead to immediate death
·Internal implanted power sources and wireless charging capabilities minimizes potential driveline infections
Heart failure, the inability of the heart to pump enough blood to the rest of the body, has affected over 5 million people in the United States. Many of those who cannot receive heart transplants due to limited organ availability receive ventricular assist devices (VADs). These VADs are implanted mechanical pumps and intertwined with the ventricles to help pump blood from heart to the rest of the body. Despite the benefits of these devices, VADs require invasive surgery that irreversibly alters the anatomy of the heart. Due to the required blood contact, patients are required to take blood-thinners to prevent potential blood clots from forming. Additionally, continuous power is provided by external power sources and VAD failure may lead to immediate death of a patient.
Inventors at UCI have developed an assist device capable of providing additional pumping to the heart without the limitations of the VADs. This device is implantable and lies next to, and external to the heart itself. The device helps the heart contracts and expands with the help of a motor. The motor is actuated by a pacemaker which helps to synchronize the pace of the device with that of the heart for desired blood pumping. The device is power efficient, assisting the heart as needed and powered by an internal source that can be charged wirelessly over the skin. As such, no modification of the heart or blood vessels are necessary, minimizing death due to device failure and blood clot related risks. This device provides a unique and effective solution for patients with varying levels of heart failure, including those waiting for heart transplants.