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New Artificial “Heart” Delivers Blood With No Pulse June 16, 2011

Posted by Metabiological in Transhumanism.
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Let me be the first to say that if I ever received this kind of treatment I would take every opportunity to collapse in a crowded area and then laugh quietly to myself while potential rescuers frantically searched for a pulse.  Yes, I am that evil.

The new device uses technology that has been used to aid failing hearts since the 1980s. A ventricular assist device, or VAD, is a circulatory device designed to assist either the right or left ventricle of the heart. The VADs have a rotor of blades that circulate and push the blood forward in a continuous flow.

While VADs are typically used to help one section of the heart, Cohn and Frazier hooked two of these VADs together so they would essentially work as both sides of the heart. They began working on calves and currently have an 8-month-old calf named Abigail who has no heart. Her heart was removed and in its place the doctors inserted their new pump device. Abigail is a healthy and active young calf, however, according to any medical cardiac tests, she would appear dead.

On a more serious note I wonder what the physiological effects (beyond the obvious) of this kind of device will be.  High blood pressure would no longer seem to be a problem.  Neither would conditions resulting from a weak circulatory system.  On the other hand a true replacement would have to account for changes in heart rate during various activity levels if it wants to avoid having the same flow rate whether running a marathon or washing the dishes.  In addition humans have a number of anatomical features designed to deal with the contraction/relaxation of the heart, from the greater development of muscle around arteries to the present of valves within veins to prevent back flow of blood.  Whether these would simply atrophy or would actually cause further problems remains to be seen.

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