We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Artificial Heart?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Creating an artificial heart that would be a successful longterm replacement for the human heart has been a goal in medical research for numerous decades. Thus far, various doctors and scientists have developed some machines that can take over heart function while a patient waits for a transplant, or for people who can’t receive transplants. These mechanical hearts may be placed in the body, so that many people may have an extension of life, but they don’t last forever.

Prior to delving into the history of the artificial heart, it’s important to understand what it is and what it isn’t. This mechanized device is not a heart/lung bypass machine. Such machines are a hugely important development in medicine nevertheless, and are used on a regular basis.

Artificial hearts should be viewed as distinct from ventricular assist devices and left ventricular assist devices (VADs and LVADs). These may be implanted to take over some of the work of a heart that retains a certain amount of function. They are useful too in bridging the gap when patients are on transplant waiting lists, and may help assist the heart in continuing to work at a more efficient rate for a period of time. However, it should be understood that a true artificial heart is implanted in the body and takes over the work of the failing heart. The term failing usually means that neither the left or right ventricle can function enough to support life.

In the mid-twentieth century, there were several people working on the creation of an artificial heart, and the first implant was performed on a dog in 1957. It was not tremendously successful and the dog only survived for a few hours after the implantation. Research of total mechanized hearts continued on dogs, and in the mid 1960s, doctors began to develop LVADs too, with the first successful LVAD surgery performed in 1966.

Much trial and error followed, and some of the main concerns included rejection of various components of artificial hearts, and survival rate, which was considerably low for both LVADs and total hearts. In the 1980s, two artificial hearts were developed that continue to be used. These are the Jarvik and the Abiocor. Both have been used in many surgeries to extend life. The Abiocor was considered an improvement on the Jarvik because its power source was not outside of the body. The Jarvik requires external wiring to a power source, but has proven over long clinical studies to be more effective than the Abiocor with longer survival rates for some patients.

Another artificial heart developed in the 2000s that shows great promise has been created by Dr. Alain Carpentier of France, and this heart is in trials to determine efficacy and safety. Unlike its predecessors, Carpentier’s model uses some animal tissue in its design, which might prove effective in reducing rejection. Other scientists continue to work on additional models, since even though some patients survive for several years after receiving an artificial heart, others still don’t. For some survivors, quality of life can be poor and length of life may be short.

There are some inherent concerns with creating artificial hearts. One that remains is how to power the heart, and improvement in various power cells may ultimately allay these concerns. Yet a human heart must work constantly and even with advanced power techniques, it’s hard to know how long any artificial heart can last, once in the body. Still there remains much need for artificial hearts because some people are not eligible for heart transplants, and others need one and die waiting for a heart.

There is some speculation about whether advances in regenerative medicine would ultimately make the quest for the perfect artificial heart obsolete. Hope exists that someday scientists will be able to use a patient’s own tissue to grow a new heart for those who need them. This would eliminate concern over rejection and address the issue of lack of transplants to meet demand.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.