Monday 25th September, 2017
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Robotic sleeve 'hugs' failing hearts

Robotic sleeve 'hugs' failing hearts

Scientists have developed a robotic sleeve that can help hearts pump when they are failing.
The sleeve - made of mate­rial that mimics heart muscle - hugs the outside of the heart and squeezes it, mimicking the action of cardiac muscle.
According to BBC News, the early study, published in Sci­ence Translational Medicine, shows the concept works on pig hearts.
The British Heart Founda­tion describes it as a “novel ap­proach” that requires further trials.
Over half a million people in the UK have heart failure.
It is a long-term condition that gradually gets worse over time.
For people with the illness, the heart is unable to pump blood around the body prop­erly - most commonly because cardiac muscle has been dam­aged, after a heart attack, for example.
Scientists based at Harvard and the Boston Children’s Hos­pital, and in Leeds, say their soft sleeve was inspired by the ac­tions and structure of real heart muscle.
The silicon-based device stiffens or relaxes when inflated with pressurised air.
Fixing it around six pig hearts, scientists found they were able to synchronise the sleeve with each heart’s shape and movements.
The study shows the robotic sleeve helped boost the amount of blood being pumped around the body.
And when the hearts stopped beating, the sleeves helped re­store blood flow.
Currently, mechanical devic­es can be implanted in the heart to help it pump. But because they are in direct contact with heart tissue, the body can react to them - leading to the risk of dangerous blood clots.
Researchers argue their sleeve could help cut this risk by “hugging” the outside of the heart rather than being implant­ed inside it.
But they acknowledge their research is still at an early stage and much longer-term animal studies and then human studies would need to be carried out be­fore it could be used in patients.
Christopher Allen, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Peo­ple living with end-stage heart failure are in desperate need of symptom relief, and some will even require a heart transplant.
“We currently don’t have enough hearts available to meet the needs of those who require a heart transplant, so we’re always looking for innovative new ways to buy time to give people the best chance possible of re­ceiving a new heart and a new lease of life.

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