Scientists have created a novel “electronic smart pump” that they say will “revolutionize” the treatment of patients suffering from chronic heart failure.

Researchers from the Nottingham Trent University and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust in the UK say the smart aortic graft would be implanted in the patient’s body and is entirely self-contained, eliminating the need for the patient to be hospitalized and wired to machinery.

The battery-operated device would be implanted into a section of the aorta that has previously been removed in order to improve the heart’s efficiency.

The aorta is the large artery situated in in the left ventricle of the heart.

A tube is connected to the device, which is surrounded by a material that expands when a voltage is applied to it, causing it to act as a pump.

The device would then create a counter blood flow by “beating out of phase with the diseased heart.”

Once the heart fills with blood, the tube contracts, therefore increasing pressure in the heart. The heart then pumps oxygenated blood around the body. This causes the tube to expand, releasing the pressure and increasing blood flow.

The researchers say they hope to have the device tailor-made to each patient using 3D printing techniques and data from MRI scans.

Heart pump

Researchers created an ‘electronic heart pump’ that may revolutionize the treatment of heart disease.
Photo credit: NTU

Dr. Philip Breedon, of the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment at Nottingham Trent University and leader of the research team, says that the technology currently used to help people with acute heart failure can only be utilized for a few days, and involves the patient being attached to large external machines that need to be plugged into the main power supply.

Dr. Breedon told Medical News today that the device would make a significant difference to the treatment of patients suffering from heart disease:

Most importantly, it would provide them with a potential life-saving device that would be ‘fully implanted,’ giving them mobility rather than being unable to leave a hospital bed and linked to life-saving equipment or having very limited mobility.”

He adds:

“This device could really be ground-breaking and more effective than any other therapy currently being used around the world.”

The research team points out that as incidences of heart failure are steadily increasing every year, the cost of this is also increasing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 5.7 million people in the US have heart failure, costing the nation $34.4 billion every year.

“The smart aortic graft is a unique, cutting edge solution to a global health problem and promises to be cheaper and better than current devices,” says Professor David Richens, consultant cardiac surgeon at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

“[It] would revolutionize the way people are treated, and the technologies which underpin the design have the potential to transform the treatment of other diseases, such as Esophageal Achalasia.”

He continues: “Designs such as this are revealing the true potential of smart materials in medical product design. This technology really could be the start of a new beginning in the way we use equipment to help save people’s lives.”

Medical News Today recently reported on a new method of detecting heart disease by measuring the pulse in a finger.