Total Artificial Heart
Total Artificial Heart

Total Artificial Heart What Is Total Artificial Heart?


Two doctors perform open heart cardiac bypass surgery in full operation room A total artificial heart (TAH) is a pump that is placed in the chest to replace damaged heart ventricles and valves. (Ventricles pump blood to the lungs and other parts of the body.) Once the pump has been placed in the chest, a machine called a driver controls the pump outside the body. The pump and driver help blood flow to and from the heart, replacing the function of a healthy heart. A total artificial heart can help improve your quality of life and allow you to live longer.

A doctor may recommend a TAH as a long-term solution if you have heart failure caused by ventricles that no longer pump blood well enough. In certain patients who are not able to be considered for a heart transplant, TAH surgery also may be a longer-term treatment option.

Your healthcare team will do tests and talk to you about what to expect during surgery. As with any surgery, TAH surgery can lead to serious problems such as blood clots or infection. As you recover from surgery, you may have to stay in the hospital to prevent or manage these problems. Once you return home, you will learn how to protect and care for your TAH.

Our role in the research

The NHLBI played a pivotal role in the research and development of the TAH in use today. In 1963, the National Heart Institute (now NHLBI) first recommended the development of an implantable TAH. One year later, the artificial heart program, still overseen by NHLBI, was established with special congressional approval. Since then, it has provided support to research teams to study ventricular assist devices (VAD) and TAH for temporary as well as long-term use.

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