Artificial Heart And Heart Transplant

Heart disease is rapidly becoming a major health concern in our country. What is alarming is that many of these patients are young and are first diagnosed in advanced and terminal stages of the disease, with heart failure. Heart failure is a stage wherein the heart can't function adequately to meet the demands of the body. The patient feels tired, breathless and his body swells up with fluid accumulation. These patients can be managed with medications for some time. However, in terminal stages the medications lose their efficacy and the patient finds it difficult to even speak a few words, walk a few steps or lie down flat.

However, there is hope for such patients. The gold standard in treatment for such patients is Heart Transplantation. The source for a heart is a brain dead patient, i.e., a patient in coma who has no chance of recovering. If the heart in such a patient is normal and functioning, it can be harvested and transplanted to a patient with terminal heart failure. These patients can recover fully and get back to a normal life. NH Health City, Bangalore is one of the very few centres in the country with an active transplant program.

For patients who are in dire need of a heart transplant and no organ is available, mechanical pumping devices called Ventricular Assist devices or Artificial Hearts are available. These are small pumps which are implanted inside the body, which take over the function of the heart. They run on small 12 volt rechargeable batteries. These batteries and a small controller are situated outside the body and are connected to the pump inside by a small cable that passes through the skin above the umbilicus. They can be left in place until an organ is available for transplant. With technological advancements, the devices currently available are compact, efficient, reliable and very long lasting. They can now be used as alternatives to transplant!

A patient has to be first evaluated to assess the suitability for undergoing an artificial heart implantation. After the surgery, these patients can return to full active life, with very few limitations. Narayana Health has the credit of being the first Hospital in entire Asia to have implanted the latest 3rd generation device for the first time in 2008. Currently we have on offer a device called Heartmate II, made by an American company called Thoratec.