Robotic sleeve 'hugs' failing hearts

Robotic sleeve 'hugs' failing hearts

US 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.

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 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.

"This early research suggests a novel approach to help support heart function, and it will be interesting to see if this translates successfully in human trials in the future."



Add Comment

all comments

  Other news

more
‘Very last option’: McCain skeptical about preemptive strike on N.Korea

‘Very last option’: McCain skeptical about preemptive strike on N.Korea..

30-Apr, 14:52

Washington’s war hawk, John McCain, who applauded Trump for bombing an...

Eike Batista: Brazilian ex-billionaire leaves jail

Eike Batista: Brazilian ex-billionaire leaves jail..

30-Apr, 14:00

A Brazilian oil and mining magnate, who was once one of the richest men...

Guy Hedger named as man shot dead by Dorset intruders

Guy Hedger named as man shot dead by Dorset intruders..

30-Apr, 19:17

A man shot dead at a house in East Dorset has been named. Guy Hedger,...

Delaware resort towns fear Trump offshore drilling order

Delaware resort towns fear Trump offshore drilling order..

30-Apr, 15:40

Ralph Musthaler The Minnie V. skipjack sails through the Tangier Sound, a...

EU Chief Says Bloc Capable of Cutting Libya Migrant Route

EU Chief Says Bloc Capable of Cutting Libya Migrant Route..

02-Feb, 06:50

The European Union chief says that Friday's summit on migration is poised...

The Latest: No immediate Dutch reaction on Turkey protest

The Latest: No immediate Dutch reaction on Turkey protest..

13-Mar, 05:58

The Latest on tension between Turkey and Western Europe (all times...

EU court: no 'right to be forgotten' in companies register

EU court: no 'right to be forgotten' in companies register..

09-Mar, 06:38

The European Union's top court says that people have no "right to be...

Holly Robinson Peete shares how Charles Kinsey's shooting affected her family

Holly Robinson Peete shares how Charles Kinsey's shooting affected her family..

24-Mar, 23:33

In Saturday's episode of Holly Robinson Peete's reality show, "For...