Researchers in Switzerland have produced a new artificial heart. This could be used to understand how the heart works while moving forward in potentially developing a newer artificial heart in the future. This entails the potential to produce a new heart that could actually be used by those who suffer from heart failure.
The new organ functions like a real heart and feels like one as well. However, it does not last for a very long time, thus making it unfeasible for human use. It will still be utilized to understand what can be done in the future to produce a newer artificial heart that is more functional.
About the Heart
The heart was made by ETH Zurich. The firm used a 3D printer to produce the design of the heart.
The heart was produced in a format to create an organ that is around the same size as a real heart while also functioning in the same way. That is, it would be responsible for pumping blood like with any other normal heart.
The heart is made out of silicone, a soft and flexible material. It is made to contract and expand like a standard heart would.
There was some concern during its production over how much the organ weighs. The artificial organ is also about 390 grams in weight. This is about 80 grams larger than what a normal human heart is like, thus adding a slight bit of pressure.
The artificial heart was designed to be as realistic and accurate in its arrangement as possible. It has right and left ventricles that were both produced through a 3D printer.
The two chambers are also separate by a third chamber instead of a traditional septum. The third chamber is deflated through the use of pressurized air. The chamber will pump fluid and work with the same muscle contraction functions that a typical heart often goes through. This ensures that the pumping function can continue to work as well as possible.
A Temporary Heart
Although the new artificial heart has a strong look and is functional, it is not intended to last for long-term needs. The heart can only last for about 3,000 beats before it wears out. It would beat for about 45 minutes on average.
This limit comes from the material used in the heart being relatively soft. The fatigue that the heart can suffer would be too extensive, thus keeping it from being a permanent solution.
There are also concerns over the heart lasting due to how it would be extremely difficult to integrate the silicone material into the human body. Also, there is a risk that natural blood cells could be damaged. Further research is required to get an idea of how well changes can be utilized as a means of understanding what might come about with such a heart.
Would People Actually Use It?
ETH Zurich did not design this new artificial heart with the intention of any person actually using it. The heart was simply designed as a means of testing how such an artificial organ may work in the human body. This is especially with the intention of allowing for a clear understanding of how a heart may develop. The potential for understanding how to produce a newer artificial heart is relatively strong though.
This may also be used to analyze blood pumps and how they function. It could help with producing a newer blood pump that may be used in lieu of older ones that are often likely to suffer from significant complications.
Essential For Handling Heart Failure
The development of the new artificial heart brings about hope that cases of heart failure could potentially be kept under control in the future. This comes as heart failure has become a common concern in many parts of the world. It has especially been an issue in the United States.
A new report from the American Heart Association states that around 360,000 people in the United States die from heart disease and heart failure in the year. About 580,000 new heart attacks occur in the country every year while about 210,000 recurring attacks also take place.
This all takes place as heart failure has caused extensive financial costs throughout the country. It is estimated that the direct and indirect impact of heart attacks is at around $200 billion per year.
This new development comes as a major breakthrough in the health industry. The potential for a new artificial heart to become more viable and useful for patients with heart failure is strong but additional research is required to fully understand how such a heart may be produced. This includes knowing what to do in order to produce a heart that actually works.