I get by with a little help from my HeartMate II

I’ve written about Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVADs) before – these are small (and getting smaller!) machines designed to be attached to the Left Ventricle and give a weak heart a needed boost. Usually it is used as a “bridge to transplant” – to keep a heart going until a donor heart can be found – but more and more often they are being used as a temporary measure. The LAVD is being inserted and left in long enough for the heart to rest; if the natural pump improves the artificial one can be removed.  Robert Jarvik and a team from the University of Maryland are even developing LVADs that can be used on children and infants!

Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit Michigan has been studying LVADs and they have discovered that they help improve the right side of the heart, too. They also show that a newer model of LVAD, the HeartMate II, has a significantly lower risk of infection than its predecessor.

The HeartMate II is a continuous flow pump – unlike the earlier model, which tried to simulate the beating of the heart. Because of this, someone using a HeartMate II LVAD has almost no pulse!

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4 Responses to “I get by with a little help from my HeartMate II”

  1. Carolyn Compton Says:

    Hi Steve, No pulse will be very confusing for first aiders! Perhaps they need a new slogan on the medi-alert bracelet! “caution, no pulse-do not be alarmed!”

    • Steve Says:

      It would be confusing! But LVADs aren’t completely self contained yet, so the wires leading to the hand held powerpack *might* give them a hint that something is going on! 🙂

  2. Keeley Taylor Says:

    Thank you so much Steve! I enjoy reading your blog. You are very informative! Keep it coming, we are reading whether we comment or not!

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