We describe it as racing when we’re excited, skipping when we’re startled, swelling when we’re proud – it gets name-checked a great deal in this season of romance. The heart is associated with a wide range of emotions, but its function is to move blood through the body, and when it fails to do that the emotions involved are predominantly desperation and sorrow. But now, thanks to the availability of the HeartMate II from Thoratec, a little more hope.
When the cardiac muscle weakens to the point that it can’t move enough blood through the circulatory system, surgeons can implant this device that connects to the left ventricle and the aorta, essentially boosting the heart’s pumping capacity via an external battery pack worn by the user. It doesn’t replace the heart; it strengthens it, supporting patients while they await transplants or permanently augmenting their cardiac system.