World's First Fully Artificial Heart Could Set You Back a Bit

November 04 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2010   Rating: 1

French scientists unveiled the world’s first fully functional artificial heart at the cost of about $192,000 a unit. The heart, which gets some of its design from modern aerospace research, consists of two pumps which help regulate flow.

The reason this is called the first fully functional artificial heart is that, unlike other hearts currently made, it comes equipped with sensors which can increase or decrease blood flow depending on the persons level of activity. “The same tiny sensors that measure air pressure and altitude in an airplane or satellite are also in the artificial heart. This should allow the device to respond immediately if the patient needs more or less blood.”(CNN) Current models require an outside regulator to adjust blood flow to the body (and only consist of one pump).

Although clinical trials have yet to begin, it has already been tested on large animals and is built out of materials already existing in artificial hearts today, namely of polymers and pig tissue. And while heart disease itself kills 17 million people a year while only 2,200 heart transplants were performed in 2006 in the US. The hope is that down the road we may be able to make a cheaper and safer heart for the millions instead of the thousands.

The real benefit of artificial body parts is that there is no foreign DNA for the applicants body to reject. Current heart transplant patients have to take anti-rejection medication their whole life which sometimes doesn’t work. On top of that, only 60% of heart transplant patients live longer than 10 years after their surgery. So unless stem cells manage to swoop in and save the day, artificial is really the way to go.

Images courtesy of AP Press

Comment Thread (5 Responses)

  1. Funny, because I mentioned this in a J. Uldrich’s post. I believe artificial is going to be the first step. Stem cells are in their infancy, and until they get some advancements, “biotech” is going to be not as major as this stuff.

    However, they are experimenting with 3D printing hearts and other organs. Now that will be interesting. There’s something weird about printers, I have to tell you. We can virtually print anything that we can think of soon. Even other printers..

    Posted by: Covus   November 05, 2008
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  2. Great, so do you go into a mechanic for a tune up and an oil check? All we need now is oil for blood and we’re set.

    Posted by: martymcfly   November 05, 2008
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  3. Looks a bit 1960s…

    Posted by: StuartDobson   November 05, 2008
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  4. @martymcfly – They have artificial blood, too that they are making…

    Posted by: Covus   November 05, 2008
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  5. John: Interesting post. Consider this: In 1950, the world’s first defibrillator was very expensive. Today, it is not uncommon to find them on airplanes. This technology will only get cheaper. (Personally, however, I think it’ll be render obsolete by advances in biotechnology.)

    Posted by: juldrich   November 13, 2008
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