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Printed Electronics World
Posted on March 7, 2008 by  & 

Mesh that wraps around the heart

Webbing that wraps around the heart could free patients from a lifetime of anti-rejection drugs.
According to researchers at Leeds University, UK current devices implanted to assist the heart work by sucking blood from ventricles and then expelling it into downstream vessels. But because these devices come into contact with the blood stream, life-long drug therapy becomes necessary to suppress the immune system and prevent blood clotting. They can also cause damage to cells within the blood.
The new webbing device which is still being developed by a team of scientists at the University of Leeds provides a less invasive method by wrapping the mesh around the heart so that it does not come into contact with the blood stream. Inbuilt sensors recognize when the heart wants to beat - it then triggers a series of miniature motors which cause the web to contract - increasing the internal pressure and assisting the heart to pump the blood around the body. Apparently it's similar to squeezing a plastic bottle and forcing the liquid inside to rise.
As well as offering support to people suffering from heart and valve problems, the device could also offer patients a better quality of life while they wait for their transplants.
Engineering PhD student David Keeling says, "Recent research has found that with some heart diseases, supporting the heart for a short period with an assistive device reduces the work-load on the heart and allows it to rest and recover. Our device also allows for a controlled relaxation of the heart muscle after contraction, which means that it's being supported throughout the whole heartbeat process. It's the same as when you pull a muscle in any other part of your body, rest can often be the best therapy."
The team is testing the prototype and hopes to simulate the effects of different heart diseases to gauge the potential success of the device.
To find out more attend Printed Electronics Europe 2008.
References and source of image: University of Leeds

Authored By:

Business Development Director, Research

Posted on: March 7, 2008

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