When the heart is injured it can’t repair itself, meaning that heart failure often requires a transplant of the whole organ. But now, scientists at EPFL have developed an artificial aorta that can help pump blood, taking some of the pressure off the heart and reducing or even eliminating the need for a transplant.
After a heart attack or similar injury, the heart patches itself up with scar tissue. That’s good in the short term for keeping the structure intact, but unfortunately that scar tissue doesn’t beat. That means the heart can’t beat as well as it used to, putting extra strain on it that can eventually lead to full heart failure and the need for a whole organ transplant. But of course, donated hearts aren’t easy to come by.
So for the new study, the EPFL researchers investigated ways to assist a patient’s own heart for longer. And to do so, they turned to the aorta.
The aorta is the main artery that transports blood out of the heart to the rest of the body. To do that important job, the tissue is very elastic, swelling up as blood is pumped into it from the heart then contracting to squeeze it out to where it needs to go. The team designed an implantable artificial aorta that could do this job better, taking some of the strain off the heart.