Now an artificial heart that beats

Scientists have created what they claim is the world’s first artificial heart that beats. A European team, led by French cardiac surgeon Alain Carpentier, has unveiled the fully implantable heart that can respond instantly to changes in blood pressure and adapt the heart beat rate accordingly. “If you showed the electrocardiogram to a cardiologist he would say ‘that’s a human heart.’ Well no, it isn’t: it’s a prosthesis,” Prof Carpentier was quoted by British newspaper ‘The Daily Telegraph’ as saying. Prof Carpentier, the Head of Research on cardiac grafts and prostheses at Georges Pompidou Hospital in Paris, and his team have come up with the artificial heart after 15 years of research. In particular, he used his expertise as a world authority in artificial heart valves to overcome the problem of blood clots – the main stumbling block in other attempts to build an artificial heart. He did this by using specially sterilised “bioprosthetic” pig cartilage and by replicating the exact same blood flow – or hemodynamics – of the human heart that reduce blood clot risks. “The aim of this heart is to allow patients to go from an impossible life where they can do just a few steps from their bed to an armchair to a normal social life. They will even be able to run – although naturally not a marathon,” he said. Weighing around a kilo, the only external part of the man-made organ is its battery having a five-hour charge life. Prof Carpentier said the new heart was necessary given the chronic shortage of heart donors and growing heart patient waiting lists. “I couldn’t stand seeing young, active people dying aged 40 from massive heart attacks,” he said.


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