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Smart Heart Pumps: Researchers Present Intelligent Ventricular Assist Device That Monitors a Patient's Cardiac Output

Integration of patient monitoring into heart pump devices could anticipate life-threatening events.

By
Meeri Kim, Contributor
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

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Patients who require a ventricular assist device-a surgically implanted mechanical device that helps pump blood from the ventricles to the rest of the body-typically have weakened hearts or heart failure. While such devices have extended the lives of many patients, they have lacked the ability to communicate vital signs data in real time.

A group of bioengineers from the Medical University of Vienna and the Ludwig Boltzmann Cluster for Cardiovascular Research have created an intelligent ventricular assist system that provides detailed analysis of the patient’s cardiac output and pump output. The team showed off their “smart pump” at the 2017 Congress of the European Society for Artificial Organs (ESAO), which took place in Vienna Sept. 6-9.

The presentation detailed intelligent monitoring of patients and their pumps with the addition of a small device connected to the pump controller. It stores pump motor current and speed on a micro SD card, sampling data every 50 seconds. In a two-week observational study, significant suction (an adverse event) could be observed in six of 10 patients fitted with the smart pump. The other four patients experienced almost no suction.

Although still in a research phase, the researchers hope that improved monitoring of patients with ventricular assist devices will help anticipate life-threatening adverse events like suction, arrhythmia or pump thrombosis.