Essay on Artificial Hearts

Essay on Artificial Hearts

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The natural heart consists of two pumps and four chambers. The right atrium pumps oxygen-depleted blood from the body to the right ventricle and then on to the lungs. The left atrium sends oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the left ventricle and then pumps this blood out to the body. Contraction of the atria is followed by the contraction of the large ventricles. The valves of the heart serve as check valves, closing to control blood flow.

One of the leading causes of death is congestive heart failure in which the ability of the heart to pump blood declines. This decline is caused by sudden damage to the heart as the result of heart attacks, deterioration of the heart from viral infections, malfunctioning of the valves or high blood pressure (Lange 13). The health of the heart also depends upon the functioning of the valves. The narrowing of valve openings decreases the pumping efficiency of the heart and limits the amount of blood that is pumped to the body. Valves may partially close reducing the amount of blood to the rest of the body and consequently putting excess pressure on the lungs (Lange 18). Five million Americans are currently living with heart failure and 50% of these patients will die within five years (Lange 13). The damage that leads to heart failure can only be cured through organ transplants, although medication and surgical options due serve to control symptoms. However, artificial hearts and pump-assisted devices may be potential alternatives to these methods.

The expectations for total artificial hearts and partial artificial heart devices are numerous. The artificial heart must maintain blood circulation and oxygenation, beat 100,000 times every 24 hours and it must have a constant power source. Mor...

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...ting data on its performance. Pressure sensors in the heart feed a microprocessor built into the heart that provides information to determine heart rate. Thus it acts like a natural heart, increasing the speed of heartbeats in response to higher activity levels and allowing patients a more active life (Hogan 79).

The natural heart performs many complex functions for the survival of humans. And with the numerous diseases that affect the human heart it is important to consider not only all current options, but develop new technologies to sustain and replace the human heart. With the development of artificial hearts scientists "wipe out the drawbacks of animal heart transplants-immune rejection, shortages and exotic viruses" (Holden 1). And the possibility of artificial hearts constructed from natural human tissue provides even greater possibilities in the future.

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