Artificial Aorta Could Take Pressure off of Heart Patients

This new medical innovation may reduce heart transplants.


Potential innovations for heart transplant patients. .

(Natali _ Mis /

A new artificial aorta is giving hope to heart patients and may actually reduce the need for transplants.  That’s because the aorta helps with pumping blood and reduces pressure on the patient’s heart.

When a heart is injured from a heart attack, it can’t repair itself, according to New Atlas, and that often requires a transplant of the organ. Donated hearts are not readily available and a damaged heart could easily fail.

Now, researchers at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, have found a way to assist patient’s hearts for a longer period of time and may make transplants unnecessary. The solution was to construct an implantable artificial aorta. The study was published in the January 2021 issue of Advanced Science.

The aorta is the main artery in the heart that transports blood from the heart’s left ventricle to the rest of the body. Its tissue is very elastic and has to be able to fill up with blood pumped out of the heart and to contract as it leaves the heart.

The device is made of silicon and has a series of electrodes, according to a press release from the university, and works like a supercharged aorta. When current is applied to the artificial aorta, it expands to an even larger diameter than the body’s natural one.

“The advantage of our system is that it reduces the pressure on a patient’s heart. The idea isn’t to replace the heart, but to assist it,” Yoan Civet, a Scientist at EPFL's Integrated Actuators Laboratory (LAI) said in the press release.

Coming up with the idea and creating a prototype was not easy. “We started from scratch and had to develop a new production process that would allow us to increase the volume of the silicone tube. We also had to overcome a problem of electric breakdown.

“Due to our multi-layer design, only half as affordable electric field was reached as compared to a single-membrane system. We had to troubleshoot the problem and then come up with a solution,” said Civet.

The artificial aorta was tested on a simulation of the pumps and chambers to replicate the condition of a natural heart. The testing of the device on the simulator, showed a reduction of the amount of cardiac energy required by 5.5 percent.

But further testing is necessary and the team is already working on an improved design. The researchers applied for a patent and hope that this amazing discovery can be used to treat other conditions like urological disorders.

Of course, making an implantable artificial heart would be an even greater achievement. And that’s what researchers at the Tel Aviv University in Israel are working on, according to a press release from the university.

In 2019, the researchers were able to 3D-print a rabbit sized artificial heart. This project was the first time that an artificial heart was engineered and printed from human cells and it contained blood vessels, ventricles and chambers. While the heart is nowhere near ready to be used as a transplant, it is definitely a major breakthrough.

Since over 23 million people worldwide suffer from heart failure, according to the EPFL study, this is a much-needed treatment that can delay or possibly eliminate the need for heart transplants. These medical advancements will help people live productive lives after heart attacks without fear.

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