By Makena Dyck
February is heart month so there is no better time to talk about hearts than now. Did you know that the leading cause of death worldwide is heart disease. Generally, heart disease occurs when plaque builds up in arteries and blood vessels in the heart. This often leads to a heart attack or heart failure which are both often fatal. One of the only treatments for someone with advanced heart failure or other conditions such as Cardiomyopathy is a heart transplant. Transplants can be difficult to arrange as it is hard to find a perfect match for a patient at the time of need because it relies on the death of another person. For years medical engineers have been trying to create a total artificial heart for long term use.
Carmat’s Artificial Heart
Recently, the European Union has approved Carmat’s TAH, a total artificial heart for patients in desperate need of a transplant. This fully functioning heart is quite elaborate and supports a three part system. The hospital care console operates and monitors the overall function. The external equipment provides mobility for a semi-normal life as well as powering the heart. It weighs around 5kg and can be carried in a backpack. The prosthetic replaces the actual heart and it has a cable that connects it to the external equipment which powers it. The prosthetic itself has three biological valves and two ventricles allowing it to be a very close functioning replica to an actual heart. This arteficial heart can be left in the body for up to five years and after 1 year, patients are most likely to survive on the artificial heart until a transplant.
What Would Life Be Like With An Artificial Heart?
Artificial hearts give people a second chance at life. While living with an artificial heart, you could expect to have general mobility such as walking but most high impact activities are best to avoid. You would need to by accompanied by a caretaker just in case the heart malfunctions. It could feel overwhelming at times being plugged into the external pack. Not to mention constantly hearing the noises that the machine makes. Blood thinners would become your best friend to help make sure no dangerous blood clots get a chance to form.
Artificial hearts are pretty cool but there’s more to consider aside from the incredible innovation that created it. They are so beneficial and I believe that they will save countless lives. I don’t think they eliminate the need for regular heart transplants. No artificial heart is the same as a real heart because of its materials and the minor lifestyle limitations. I think that artificial hearts are the perfect solution while waiting for a heart to become available.