Man with heart attack

New heart model to help treat patients with heart failure

  • Research

A new lab-based model of a heart and circulatory system, developed by researchers at RCSI, will help test devices to treat patients with one of the most common forms of heart failure.

The model was tested in a study which used two different types of circulatory models including a silicone heart model, carried out by RCSI in collaboration with the National College of Art and Design (NCAD).

There are two common types of heart failure: heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) and heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). Ejection fraction is the measurement used to determine the heart’s ability to pump oxygen-rich blood through the body.

In recent years, the number of patients presenting with heart failure with normal or preserved ejection fraction measurement is increasing, most likely due to the increase in prevalence of common risk factors, including old age, high blood pressure and obesity. Women are at greater risk than men.

The research team developed a model called a ‘mock circulatory loop’ to mimic both a healthy heart and a heart in failure with preserved ejection fraction. The model enables potential heart failure treatment devices to be examined in terms of their effect on both chambers in the left side of the heart.

This model can test devices to examine the left atrium, the top chamber responsible for receiving oxygen-rich blood from the lungs, as well as the left ventricle, the lower chamber responsible for pumping the oxygen-rich blood around the body.

The research is published in the current edition of Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine. It was funded by Enterprise Ireland, who are supporting the development of the RCSI pipeline spin-out company, Pumpinheart Ltd, who will be commercialising a novel medical device for the treatment of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.

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