Magazine article USA TODAY

Wearable Heart Pump Allows Mobility

Magazine article USA TODAY

Wearable Heart Pump Allows Mobility

Article excerpt

Helping people survive until a heart transplant is available, while at the same time improving quality of life, is the goal of new research under way at Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center and seven other sites nationwide. Researchers have begun testing a heart assist device in a wearable form that eventually may allow patients the freedom and mobility necessary to return to a more normal lifestyle while awaiting transplantation.

The device, known as the Novacor-Baxter left ventricular assist system (LVAS), is used in patients whose hearts deteriorate to the point that they may not survive until a donor organ becomes available. The pump is implanted in the abdomen and takes over the workload of the failing heart. In the past, the pump was connected to a large control console weighting 350 pounds. Persons remained tethered to the console and had to stay in the hospital until transplantation.

The new wearable LVAS makes use of the same electromechanically driven pump utilized in the console-based versions. Unlike the latter, though, the electronic controller and battery packs of the wearable LVAS have been miniaturized to fit on a belt worn around the waist or to be carried in a shoulder bag. …

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