Now there's a mini-robot that can hug the heart - and it could be vital

Scientists create a new robotic device, to help pump the heart

The device could be implanted around the heart

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A new study has found that a robotic device designed to give the heart gentle squeezes could help those with cardiological problems.

The soft, cup-shaped device is designed for people experiencing heart failure, Live Science reported.

At the moment, doctors use ventricular assist devices, which are either implanted in the body or worn outside. Such devies are connected to the heart with several tubes.

The assist devices help circulate blood but their close contact with the body's essential fluid can cause clotting and lead to strokes. Patients using this treatment therefore have to take blood-thinning drugs, but these can also lead to complications in the form of bleeding problems.

This new device fits around the heart, meaning it doesn't come into contact with the blood and thus avoids the clotting problem.

The implant is attached to the heart with a suction device and stitches; it also has a gel interface to reduce friction. An external pump uses air to pressurise the sleeve.

A key part of the device is that it can be used to target either the left or right side of the heart, a crucial feature as heart failure often only affects a portion of the organ.

However, scientists said further research is needed to understand how to use the device in the long-term and to check for complications.