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The human heart is a wondrous structure of engineering. In the body of the average adult, the heart is the tenacious muscle that beats approximately 100,000 times each day, pumping blood through veins and arteries that extend upwards toward the brain and downwards towards the toes. It is no big surprise biomedical engineers have had a difficult time assembling a mechanical replica which is to function similarly as the heart and to keep patients with heart failure alive. Although comparative developments date back to the late 1940s, the first artificial heart was effectively implanted in a human was the Jarvik-7 in 1982, constructed by Willem Johan Kolff and Robert Jarvik (Strickland). The artificial heart is a prosthetic device that surgically replaces both ventricles and all valves of a heart used by adults with heart failure, and is becoming more prominent as innovation is advancing.
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Artificial hearts are normally used to delay the time to heart transplantation, or to indefinitely replace the heart in case heart transplantation is not possible. The most affluent impact of the artificial heart is that it saves over 5,000 lives every year (SynCardia). Additionally, this invention has had a beneficial impact on society because a fully functional artificial heart lowers the excessive need for heart transplants, since the demand for donor hearts surpasses supply. An example of someone who has been greatly assisted by the artificial heart is Pietro Zorzetto. He had an artificial heart in him for nearly four years, prior to his successful heart transplant on September 11, 2011 (Drumwright). Overall this device was of assistance to many people, but unfortunately there are also consequences that are turning up as progress is being made on the artificial heart.
The consequences associated with the artificial heart are primarily unforeseen and bad, although little good can be seen. According to CardioWest, a certain artificial heart is designed to be attached to a power source outside the body through holes in the abdomen. These holes allow harmful bacteria getting inside the body which could potentially cause an infection. Additionally, since the mechanisms are so complex, they can malfunction in different ways. An artificial heart’s pumping rate may not be exactly right, power may fail or parts altogether may stop working, which consequently would lead to sudden death. Another disadvantage of the artificial heart is that not all patients have a body size that allows the device to be implanted into the chest, making small people incapable ofÂ receiving the device. As innovation is advancing and technology is progressing, these issues are beginning to diminish and new ways of developing the artificial heart are being introduced.
According to MIT, the artificial heart is being enhanced to combine synthetic and biological materials as well as sensors and software to detect a patient’s level of exertion and adjust output accordingly. According to Carmat, a company concentrated on developing the latest bioprosthetic heart, it will comprise of two chambers each divided by a membrane which will hold hydraulic fluid. A motorized pump will move the fluid in and out of the chambers allowing the blood to flow through the chambers. The blood-facing side of the membrane is made of tissue procured from tissue that surrounds a cow’s heart, to make the device more biocompatible. The benefit of bioprosthetic hearts is they are not rejected by the body’s immune system. This is because they are made from metals and plastics, so the body does not recognize them as foreign and attack them in the same way it does with a manifold of living tissue. Furthermore, Pennsylvania State University researchers are developing a prosthetic heart powered by radio-frequency energy that is absorbed by the skin. Overall, these particular advancements are what will make the artificial heart sought-after.
To conclude, heart failure is the leading cause of death all over the world. Most people die from the chambers of the heart failing to push enough blood through the body. A solution to heart failure was initially surfaced in the late 1960s. It had also required the advent of immunosuppressants. Around a decade later, the first successful artificial heart was developed and, the average survival rate of heart transplant patients increased to more than 5 years. The incessant furtherance of technology today will eventually lead to the creation of the perfect artificial heart and will be able to help every common man in need.
“Advantages & Disadvantages of the Artificial Heart.” Health Guide Info. N.p., 07 Feb. 2011. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.
Drumwright, Janelle. “7 Things About Artificial Hearts That You Should Know.” 7 Things About Artificial Hearts That You Should Know. N.p., 2014. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.
Eliza Strickland Posted 29 Dec 2016 | 14:00 GMT. “Completely Artificial Hearts: Coming to a Chest Cavity Near You.” IEEE Spectrum: Technology, Engineering, and Science News. N.p., 29 Dec. 2016. Web. 01 Mar. 2017.
Medtronic. “Benefits and Risks of Heart Valve Replacement.” Medical Technology, Services, and Solutions Global Leader. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.
Rojahn, Susan Young. “The Latest Artificial Heart: Part Cow, Part Machine.” MIT Technology Review. MIT Technology Review, 16 Mar. 2016. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.
“What Is a Total Artificial Heart?” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2017.
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