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Flabby Heart Keeps Pumping with Squeeze from Robotic Sleeve

Congenital Heart Defect
Posted at 4:51 PM, Jan 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-18 11:59:01-05

WASHINGTON (AP) - Scientists are developing a robotic sleeve that can encase a flabby diseased heart and gently squeeze to keep it pumping.

Researchers at Harvard University and Boston Children's Hospital developed the so-called soft robotic device in hopes of improving treatment of deadly heart failure, when the heart gets too weak to pump blood.

Artificial muscles wind through the thin silicone sleeve. They alternately compress, twist and relax to mimic the heart's natural movement and strengthen its beat.

The device is highly experimental. But on Wednesday, researchers reported it improved blood flow when implanted into pigs. More work is needed before the sleeve could be studied in people.

The research is reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine.