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The High Tech Heart: A Device for a Failing Heart


While it’s rare for hearts to fail suddenly and unexpectedly, when it does happen, there’s a device called the BVS 5000 that can take over the pumping action and give the heart a rest. The BVS 5000 is indicated specifically for people whose hearts are failing but are expected to recover.

The BVS 5000, which is made by AbioMed, the same company that developed the AbioCor artificial heart, is what’s a called an “assist device.” It’s a synthetic, mechanical pump that’s surgically implanted in the body. The pumping action of the BVS 5000 mimics the heart’s own pumping. It ensures that the body’s organs receive the blood they need to continue function well.

Who’s a candidate for the BVS 5000?
Dr. Haysam El-Dalati, cardiac surgeon at Community Health Partners in Cincinnati, explains, “Anyone whose heart can’t maintain its normal function is a candidate for the BVS 5000. There’s no specific age cutoff or anything like that.

“We use these in the rare case in which a patient, for example, is having a heart attack and is in heart failure. Implanting the assist-device gives the heart an opportunity to rest and recover.”

Other situations that may create a need for the BVS 5000 would include

  • The rare occasion when the heart muscle goes into shock after bypass surgery and will not re-start when it’s taken off the heart-lung machine.
  • Cases in which the heart is struck by viral myocarditis, a flu-like virus, and needs time to recover 
  • Instances in which a patient has had a heart transplant that was not successful. They can have the BVS 5000 implanted and then go back on the waiting list for another transplant.

“Be sure to understand this,” Dr. El-Dalati says. “The assist device is used on patients who would not survive without it. We actually rarely have to use it. And it does entail having actual surgery, so it’s a serious procedure. “But it’s good for everyone’s peace of mind to know we have the BVS 5000 available.”

Dr. Haysam El-Dalati, Community Health Partners, Cincinnati; AbioMed Web site;
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