An artificial heart is a mechanical device that is implanted into the body to takeover the function of a failing heart. A synthetic replacement for the heart remains one of the long-sought goals of the modern day science. An artificial heart is distinct from a heart lung machine which operates from the exterior and can only be used for a few hours at a time and is not a permanent solution.
Heart is a unique organ with subtleties that makes the straightforward creation of an artificial heart from the synthetic materials a distant dream. The current available artificial hearts can only be used as a bridge for the time to arrange a cardiac transplant. With the availability of artificial hearts, the need for cardiac transplant which out weighs the availability can be reduced and many a valuable life can be saved. They cannot be used as a permanent solution for the failing heart. Currently FDA approved artificial hearts are
- Cardiowest temporary total artificial heart
- AbioCor Replacement Heart
On October 27, 2008, French professor and leading heart transplant specialist Alan F Carpentier announced that a fully implantable artificial heart will be ready for clinical trial by 2011, and for alternative transplant in 2013.
Heart Assist Devices/Cardiac Assist Devices
Patients who have some remaining cardiac function, but inadequate to maintain a normal life can be put on a heart assist or Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD). These can only be used as a bridge to transplantation as long term devices are currently not implantable due to complications of infections, thromboembolism or a device failure. The first heart assist device was FDA approved in 1994, and two more received approval in 1998. The three FDA approved assist devices are
- Thoratec LVAD
- Novacor LVAD
- Heartmate LVAD