Traditionally severe heart failure patients have had their cardiac function supported by ventricular assist devices. I won’t get into too much detail on how that works, but imagine it as an external pump bypassing some blood flow from the ventricle into the aorta. The involved cannulas and bulky devices.

A demonstration of the soft robotic sleeve in a pig. Ellen Rouche/Harvard SEAS

A demonstration of the soft robotic sleeve in a pig. Ellen Rouche/Harvard SEAS

This week a new device, without cannulas was showcased in Science Translational Medicine. The device is a silicone sleeve ribbed with inflatable tubes. The tubes wrap around a waning heart and provides extra muscle. In early tests, the heart-snuggling sleeve restored blood flow in six living pigs after they had suffered acute cardiac arrest. If the thumping tech passes further testing, it could one day help prolong the lives of people with heart failure, an affliction that strikes around 40 million people worldwide.

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A Squishy Heart Hugging Device Can Keep Blood Pumping In A Failing Heart

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