Health Watch - Technology: Helping the Heart

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


Modern technology continues to improve medical care and quality of life for patients. This week on Health Watch, we’ll talk about some recent technological advances. For some patients with heart failure, a transplant is the only hope, but there can be a long wait to get a new heart. Technology can help during that wait.

When a patient’s heart is too weak to effectively pump blood, a left-ventricular assist device can be implanted to improve heart function. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center are testing the device, which is just a little smaller than a hockey puck.

Dr. Dan Meyer, a UT Southwestern cardiovascular surgeon, says the device has only one moving part, which should give it more long-term reliability and keep it from damaging blood cells as they pass through the pump. There is one side effect that may take some getting used to for patients: Because the device keeps blood moving continually, patients don’t have a detectable pulse.

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March 2010


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