Mending Broken Hearts

In the UK this week 45% of the adult population will have spent an estimated £650 million on cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts to celebrate Valentine's Day, but let’s spend a moment thinking about the science – because life and love just aren’t the same without a healthy heart.

At the Artificial Heart Program, at the University of Pittsburgh, PHD student Salim E. Olia and his colleagues are using the Linkam CSS450 shearing stage on research projects involving characterization of rheological properties of red blood cells (RBCs). This is related to the blood flow in artificial organs and other blood-contacting devices under development. The potential effect of blood-contacting devices on RBC deformability is one of the most critical issues because it's extremely important for tissue perfusion and oxygenation.

Salim E. Olia said: “The Linkam shearing stage is critical for our research. The principal benefits are an extremely small sample size and simplicity of the data interpretation.”

This research is vital: a replacement heart needs to work seamlessly with the body and not become a hindrance to the blood flow.

For a brief introduction to the design of an artificial heart click here.

By Caroline Feltham