The best treatment for a person with end-stage heart failure is a heart transplant; however, in Australia there is a shortage of donor organs, meaning thousands of patients every year are left waiting.
The answer to this problem has been the development of a ventricle assist device: an implantable heart pump that works to keep the heart alive while a person waits for a transplant. These devices are life-saving tools, but there are still plenty of improvements to be made so that patients have a reasonable quality of life.
Eleonore’s research looked at how different cannula (which connect these devices to the heart) affect blood flow in the heart. She’s mostly concerned about a lack of blood flow where these devices are inserted, as stagnation can lead to clotting, and eventually more sinister events such as aneurysms.
Eleonore tested different shaped cannula – four that are currently used in Australia and one developed by the Innovative Cardiovascular Engineering Technology Lab (ICETLAB) – to see which offered the best blood flow in the heart. By using new laser imaging technology, she could attach each cannula to a 3D printed model of the ventricle and look at this blood flow.
Her research has made a compelling case for the introduction of this new cannula – developed by the PCHF’s very own ICETLAB – as it offered the most natural blood flow and the least amount of stagnation.
Eleonore’s work will potentially save thousands of lives, and give heart failure patients on these devices a better quality of life.