Each year, heart disease kills more people globally than any other illness. While scientists continue to search for a way to cure this illness, they have yet to create the perfect medicine or surgical procedure that would prevent or reverse heart failure entirely. In the meantime, they have focused on ways to keep patients with heart disease alive longer. Their new invention, a sleeve that literally hugs the heart, can prolong the life of heart failure patients.
The Innovation of the Heart Hugging Sleeve
The sleeve, which has yet to be formally named, was invented in the U.K. and shows great promise as a new and exciting heart failure treatment. Scientists are currently testing it on pigs’ hearts in laboratories. So far, it has shown promise for its ability to mimic cardiac muscle and the natural rhythm of the heart. It also keeps working even if the heart itself stops beating on its own. In theory, it could be used as a de facto form of CPR if a patient slips into cardiac arrest or full-blown cardiac failure.
One of the biggest challenges to using the heart hugging sleeve, however, is the fact that it contains man-made materials. As a general rule, the human body does not like implants based on synthetic materials. It usually recognizes that these devices are foreign and the immune system attacks the implant, which in turn could accelerate the formation of blood clots.
To prevent autoimmune attacks and blood clot formation, doctors will likely have to put heart-hugging sleeve recipients on suppressants and blood thinners, which themselves could impair the patients’ ability to recover fully. Still, the sleeve could help doctors prevent heart failure in their patients and help them live longer. This fact alone makes challenges scientists to spare no efforts in perfecting it so that it can be used as an effective treatment for heart failure and other forms of heart disease.
The Troubling Rise of Heart Failure
The sleeve comes on the heels of a recent study showing an increase in the number of heart failure cases throughout the U.S. From 2012 to 2014, heart failure cases actually dropped to 81 heart failure-related deaths per 100,000 people. That number has risen slightly to 84 deaths per 100,000 people, giving doctors enough reasons to consider why these cases are upticking.
The increase is presumably not related to smoking as statistics show that fewer people in the U.S. are smoking or using tobacco products. Likewise, it is not necessarily related to drinking or drug use as these habits too are on the decline.
However, obesity and inactivity rates continue to rise in the U.S. and, more than likely, they stand behind the increase in heart failure cases around the country. More and more people who indulge in fatty, calorie-laden foods and avoid exercise put stress and strain on their hearts. Their hearts in return suffer such damage that can lead to heart failure.
Just as doctors launch public awareness campaigns to warn against smoking and drug use, they now understand that they must continuously warn patients to eat healthy and exercise often. Their warnings may help lower the number of heart failure cases in the U.S. once more.
Heart failure kills millions of people around the world each year. This condition signifies that the heart’s muscle is so damaged that it eventually gives out and kills its victim. Scientists continue to research ways to prevent or reverse heart failure in patients. The newly invented heart hugging sleeve shows promise of keeping patients alive so that they can receive treatment that could improve their health or prolong their lives.
Image Source: Pixabay