Aeson Total Heart: Experimental Pump for Patients with Heart Failure


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— More than 3,500 people in the United States are in desperate need of a heart transplant. Some patients with end stage heart failure are eligible for an L Vad, a pump that moves blood into the left chamber of the heart, but there have been very few options for people who have both sides of the heart failing. For the first time in the U.S., surgeons have implanted an experimental total heart pump into patients, Aeson.

Your heart beats 100,000 times a day, 35 million times a year, 2.5 billion times over the average lifetime. But sometimes, the heart doesn’t pump as well as it should. Scientists have developed a device called an L Vad that helps the heart move blood on the left side. Unfortunately, in the past, there has been little success with a total artificial heart.

Mark Slaughter, MD, of the University of Louisville School of Medicine and UofL Health-Jewish Hospital, said, “It would make sense that if we can build a rocket and send somebody to the moon, you think we would be able to develop a pump that would be able to do things similar to the heart.”

Now, a French medical company has designed a new type of bioprosthetic heart called the Aeson.

“They developed a total artificial heart that mimics the human pulse on both the right and left side,” Dr. Slaughter explained.

Dr. Slaughter and his colleagues at the University of Louisville implanted the Aeson in two patients with end-stage heart failure. Those patients were the second and third to ever receive this artificial heart in the United States. During the complicated procedure, surgeons removed the patients’ failing ventricles.

Then, much like a heart transplant, surgeons attach the pump with a lead line that connects to a portable power source that keeps the device running.

“They immediately feel better; their blood pressure’s better. Their pulse is returned to normal, and their breathing is better because their lungs don’t fill up with fluid,” Dr. Slaughter told Ivanhoe Newswire.

The Aeson is designed as a bridge to transplant, giving patients more time until a donor heart is available. It is already approved for use in Europe where 20 devices have been implanted. In the United States, Duke University performed the first implant. University of Louisville surgeons followed with the second, and the third, including the first woman in the world to be implanted with the device. University of Louisville said the second patient is still hospitalized in serious condition. The first female patient was released from the hospital in October but died about a month later.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #5021

HEART FAILURE BACKGROUND: Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump a sufficient amount of blood. It affects both heart chambers, but primarily the left chamber first. When the right chamber can no longer pump it leads to biventricular heart failure. By this stage of heart failure, other organs such as the brain, liver and kidneys start to suffer from receiving insufficient blood to the heart. Worldwide, hear failure effects 26 million people, though it is increasing in prevalence, so it could amount to more. Five percent of people have terminal heart failure which means it’s an end stage of heart failure. Less than 50 percent of people survive more than five years after being diagnosed.


HEART FAILURE SYMPTOMS: Symptoms of heart failure can be ongoing or start suddenly. Heart failure signs and symptoms may include: shortness of breath with activity or when lying down, fatigue and weakness, swelling in the legs, ankles and feet, rapid or irregular heartbeat, reduced ability to exercise, persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged mucus, swelling of the belly area (abdomen), very rapid weight gain from fluid buildup, nausea and lack of appetite, difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness, and chest pain if heart failure is caused by a heart attack. While the above symptoms should be taken seriously, you should immediately call 911 if you experience chest pain, fainting or severe weakness, rapid or irregular heartbeat associated with shortness of breath, chest pain or fainting sudden, severe shortness of breath and coughing up white or pink, foamy mucus.


NEW MEDICATION: New heart failure treatments that have been approved by the FDA include Farxiga (dapagliflozin) oral tablets for adults with heart failure. In clinical trials this was shown to improve survival and reduce the need to go to the hospital. In the study, participants were randomly assigned to receive a once-daily dose of either 10 milligrams of Farxiga or a placebo and after 18 months, people who received Farxiga had fewer cardiovascular deaths and trips to the hospital for heart failure than those who received the placebo.



Betty Coffman


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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Mark Slaughter, professor and chair of the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery

Read the entire Q&A