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Artificial Heart Recipient Has No Pulse

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the just-a-low-pitched-hum dept.

Medicine 465

laggist writes "A heart patient in Singapore has been implanted with an artificial heart that pumps blood continuously, allowing her to live without a pulse. From the article: '... the petite Madam Salina, who suffers from end-stage heart failure, would not have been able to use the older and bulkier models because they can only be implanted in patients 1.7m or taller. The 30-year-old administrative assistant is the first recipient here to get a new artificial heart that pumps blood continuously, the reason why there are no beats on her wrist.'" The story is light on details, but an article from last year in MIT's Technology Review explains a bit more about how a pulse-less artificial heart works.

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First pulse. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593049)

First pulse.

First Ebb & Flow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593345)

Thoughts arrived like butterflies,
but she don't know,
'she's dead anyway! -- Since my HERF came into play
'yesterday, oh!

Oblig quote (2, Insightful)

Subm (79417) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593513)

It's life, Jim, but not as we know it.

Re:First pulse. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593641)

As you read this, you can't help but think about your pulse.
Your autonomic system usually takes care of your pulse automatically, but now, you must think in order for your heart to beat.
If you forget, you will die!

In a movie (1)

TVDinner (1067340) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593063)

I could swear that I saw this concept in a movie at one point in time. Any reason why someone didn't think of this approach sooner? What are the drawbacks?

Re:In a movie (2, Funny)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593111)

What are the drawbacks?

That when there's a bug, it's a Blue Screen of Death you wont be booting back from.

Re:In a movie (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593113)

The easiest way of moving a fluid is with a fan. It's trivial to make an artificial heart that works like that, but it has a disadvantage; the fan blades damage the blood cells. A few devices that work like this have been around for a while for emergency use (e.g. if the heart stops in the middle of an operation), but they can't be used for more than a couple of days without killing the patient (having a few blood cells killed is generally better than having no blood flowing, so they're fine for short-term use). I don't know how they solved that problem for this machine.

Re:In a movie (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593487)

some blood machines use a system where the tube holding the blood is squeezed repeatedly by a rotating disk (there are like pegs on the disk and as they pass over the tubing the squeeze it like you do with toothpaste.) Advantage I understand it is its sterile since no part of the motor or other components actually contact the blood. Not sure if its a similar system or not.

Re:In a movie (5, Informative)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593559)

This device is bladeless. In fact, one of the major advantages of this artificial heart compared to the traditional ones, is that this damages less blood cells than all other artificial "pulsed" devices. It has other benefits, like smaller size and less energy consumption. Overall, it's a greatly improved system.

Re:In a movie (5, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593131)

What are the drawbacks?

Welcome to the afterlife, Jean-Luc. You're dead.

Re:In a movie (5, Funny)

thhamm (764787) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593277)

Welcome to the afterlife, Jean-Luc. You're dead.

No, I am not dead. Because I refuse to believe that the afterlife is run by you. The universe is not so badly designed.

Re:In a movie (3, Funny)

Drunken Buddhist (467947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593471)

Reports of my assimilation are greatly exaggerated.

Re:In a movie (1)

lytithwyn (1357791) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593409)

Where oh where are my mod points? This is hilarious! Is it bad that the episode of TNG to which your are referring is the first thing that came to my mind when reading this article?

Re:In a movie (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593141)

What are the drawbacks?

Well, for one, how do these people get their blood pressure measured? Or does this heart have NASA-style telemetry? :-)

Re:In a movie (5, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593225)

Or even more so, how do machines or the nurses/doctors see you're still living if you're temporary unconscious (maybe a few too many beers?) and your pulse is zero. Then they'll declare you dead and dig you to graveyard. Nice place to wake up after a night of partying.

Re:In a movie (2, Interesting)

mowall (865642) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593305)

Or even more so, how do machines or the nurses/doctors see you're still living if you're temporary unconscious (maybe a few too many beers?) and your pulse is zero.

Some kind of tattoo explaining the situation is probably in order.

Re:In a movie (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593307)

Well, for one thing, they haven't replaced her lungs with continuous, ehm, blood conditioner. :-)

Re:In a movie (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593317)

Artificial heart + partying? That's a bright idea. Almost as good as smoking through that little hole in your neck.

Re:In a movie (3, Informative)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593609)

***Well, for one, how do these people get their blood pressure measured?*** Good question. It would appear they don't -- at least not with a sphygmomanometer that depends on the Korotkoff sounds generated by cutting off pulsating blood flow. And they won't have a pulse either. Those characteristics would normally be symptomatic of being dead. Or maybe one can pump up the blood pressure cuff and listen for a single -- hopefully loud and distinct -- thunk when blood starts flowing. OTOH, not having a pulse or measurable blood pressure beats all hell out of having a pulse and not being functional. I can't imagine what they are going to put on her MedicAlert bracelet.

Re:In a movie (1)

captbob2002 (411323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593245)

"Threshold" from 1981 - I remembered it, too.

Re:In a movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593351)

Any reason why someone didn't think of this approach sooner?

I'm sure someone thought of this earlier, but there can be a long delay between thinking of doing something and actually accomplishing it. This is especially true for life sustaining medical devices.

Any reason why someone didn't think of this approach sooner? What are the drawbacks?

You mean other than the obvious problem walmass's post refers to below (it's easier for someone to mistake her for dead while she's unconcious)? I don't know, but perhaps there will be issues that are uncovered as this artificial heart gets wider use. While the second link indicates that this type of device can respond to increases or decreases in oxygen requirements, it is possible that over the long-term lacking a pulse may cause problems to one or more of the body's organs or systems. However, the people who get it would probably be dead without it (since it can be implanted in people with small chest cavities and traditional devices can't) so most likely any negative consequences will be acceptable to most candidates.

Should sleep with a sign on chest/back.. (4, Insightful)

walmass (67905) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593069)

"Paramedics/Doctors: Do not write me off as dead. Try to resuscitate"

Re:Should sleep with a sign on chest/back.. (2, Interesting)

rastilin (752802) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593185)

Yeah, that was my first thought as well. It's very unlikely to actually happen in the real world. Still I recall a story from a while back where doctors were discussing the possibility of redefining "dead" from something like a 0.0001% recovery chance to 0.001% recovery chance. However, in the panic of a rush, I can believe a hurried doctor would fail to notice she's breathing.

Or misdiagnose her if she isn't.

Re:Should sleep with a sign on chest/back.. (5, Funny)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593501)

Miracle Max: Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there's usually only one thing you can do.

Inigo Montoya: What's that?

Miracle Max: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.

Re:Should sleep with a sign on chest/back.. (5, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593215)

Or don't try to resuscitate. Wouldn't CPR's compressions be both worthless and potentially damaging?

Re:Should sleep with a sign on chest/back.. (4, Informative)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593481)

Cardiac compression is the thin end of the wedge; Defibrillation would be real bad news.

Re:Should sleep with a sign on chest/back.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593605)

...as if that would stop the heart from beating...err...

Re:Should sleep with a sign on chest/back.. (5, Funny)

Inda (580031) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593687)

Agreed. What you would realy need is a hole and a crank handle.

Re:Should sleep with a sign on chest/back.. (1)

ScaledLizard (1430209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593311)

"Paramedics/Doctors: Do not write me off as dead. Try to resuscitate"

Normally, you push the body to squeeze the heart and force pumping, but this will probably not work for a person with an artificial heart. Still, artificial respiration might help.

Interesting concept... (4, Insightful)

curmudgeous (710771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593075)

...but I definitely see the need for a special Medic Alert badge for this.

All logic aside.. (5, Funny)

faux978 (1554709) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593079)

This probably wouldn't happen cause of medical history and all that jazz, but that aside, it'd be priceless to see a nurse unaware of the circumstance trying to take her pulse..

Re:All logic aside.. (5, Funny)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593667)

I imagine it never quite would get old either. Going in for a check-up with some new nurse. Watching her reaction as she adjusts her grip, then again, watching her change arms, looking a little more worried. Or maybe I'm just cruel.

Any systems depend on a pulse (5, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593081)

With hundreds of millions of years of evolution, are there any systems in the human body that are dependent on the pulse to function properly?

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593117)

We'll find out pretty soon now, won't we?

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (2, Interesting)

Danathar (267989) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593145)

Good question. And it's one (according to the article links) they are asking. Note that just because something has had hundreds of millions of years of evolution does not mean it's very good or could not be improved upon. Look at the Sinus cavity for example.

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (1)

werfu (1487909) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593377)

I hate my sinus cavities... why the hell do they get blocked everytime I get a cold. I end up with sinusitus 4-5 times a years. I know without them I would be speaking funny but I think I could live with this.

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (4, Informative)

dsanfte (443781) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593149)

Most of these artificial heart patients end up dying of strokes, caused of course by blood clots. It's theorized that such clots are easier to form in a pulse-less environment of steady-flow than in an environment where the blood is being "shaken" a bit, ie the pulse with each heartbeat.

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (2, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593419)

Citation needed, what with this patient being allegedly being the first recipient here to get a new artificial heart that pumps blood continuously

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (2, Informative)

ubernostrum (219442) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593595)

Citation needed, what with this patient being allegedly being the first recipient here to get a new artificial heart that pumps blood continuously

The first in Singapore. The technology has been around and in use elsewhere for years, as evidenced by older articles explaining it (and I remember reading about this a while back).

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593637)

Hrm, never mind, just noticed that tiny word 'here.' Pronouns suck.

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (5, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593459)

Well if we're in there redesigning the system anyways, it seems that there should be some way to filter or shake the blood as it passes through this thing to prevent clotting. Heck in some distant future it'd be interesting to see if it could be designed to filter out unwanted levels things like cholesterol and the like. Or for diabetics, directly monitor blood-sugar levels and inject insulin as needed to keep things under control.

Or with it being in such directly contact with so many of the body's essential systems, perhaps enough monitors could be built in that it could via wifi or the like send signals to the local dispatch office if the blood stops flowing, or if the blood pressure crosses a certain threshold.

Of course I'm playing armchair medical engineer here with no real knowledge whatsoever, but that's what most "futurists" do anyways :D.

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (1)

dazjorz (1312303) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593695)

So they give her a fake heart, and it's *still* not Cyborg enough for you? Can't you ever be *happy* with what you get, damnit? ;)

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593155)

She's in end stage heart failure though. I don't think it would matter much in this case.

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (2, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593161)

Maybe human body isn't required to have a pulse, but it might lead to some weird situations when first-aid personnel or other people try to help you.

Maybe they'll even declare you dead while you're just unconscious, because they nor the machines can feel your pulse.

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593249)

Ever since the pulseless heart assist pumps started being used in people they've been putting medical alert bracelets on the folks saying "Individual has heart assist pump and may show no pulse."

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (2, Informative)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593527)

First-aid personnel cannot declare anything. Even a paramedic cannot diagnose. Once you start CPR or rescue breathing, you cannot stop until relieved by higher medical authority or too exhausted to continue.

I would bet that an EMT, nurse, or doctor would realize something's going on in the chest upon auscultation of the apices, and in a triage situation you don't bother with the non-breathers until the bleeders are taken care of.

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (5, Funny)

0x000000 (841725) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593175)

Apparently not a single organ in the body does serial communication by having it clocked in or out on the rising or falling edge of the pulse.

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (2, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593621)

I can think of one organ that reacts visibly to blood pulses. Suck your gut in some time and you may see it too.

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (1)

Sefert (723060) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593179)

Flight or fight mechanism comes to mind. It's not just about increasing blood flow in an emergency situation, but also about dumping massive amounts of adrenaline to other parts of the body. I would assume that there would be some dilation of the arteries to allow for the greater throughput. But maybe the adrenaline does that. What the hell do I know.

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (5, Informative)

Myji Humoz (1535565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593183)

Speaking as a biomedical engineer, there are no significant systems that we know of that require a varying pressure of blood to function correctly. The pulse as the blood gets pumped stretches the arterial and capillary walls slightly, but that's about it. Very few cells in the body experience the effects of the pulsing pressure to begin with, and those tend to be ones that can function despite the pulse rather than because of it.

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593589)

We all know how important stretching is before exercise...now the arterial walls will become stiff!

So does she have a systolic pressure all the time or a diastolic one all the time? Will this disqualify her from the tour de france?

Introducing tickless technology to vertebrates. (2, Interesting)

alexhs (877055) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593243)

Don't worry, the penguin's kernel has evolved to pulseless a few years ago and is all fine and dandy :P

Re:Introducing tickless technology to vertebrates. (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593561)

Oh, I don't doubt it. ...yet we still can't get smooth full-screen Flash video.

http://xkcd.com/619/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (1)

Rhubarbe (866048) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593569)

Well, when exercising we need a faster pulse (faster flow), I'm wondering if she will be able to climb the stairs or even be able to run if she needs to?

Re:Any systems depend on a pulse (2, Insightful)

dbet (1607261) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593599)

I don't know, but putting my head on someone's chest and not hearing a heartbeat would be pretty freaky. So -1 for cuddling.

Recipe for disaster? (-1, Redundant)

Walterk (124748) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593089)

What if she faints causing paramedics get called, they feel no pulse and bring out the defibrilator(sp?)? As medical staff are so used to people having a pulse this could lead to disaster, could it not? I do presume that there is no real need for organisms to have a pulse and the body works fine with continual blood flow.

Re:Recipe for disaster? (3, Insightful)

Demonantis (1340557) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593157)

I suspect the battery pack strapped to her side and the scars on her chest might give them a clue this is not a normal emergency call. Its not like a pace maker where its contained within the body completely. Now that I think of it pace makers would cause more issues and they have been around for a while.

Re:Recipe for disaster? (1)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593193)

Although it could lead to disaster the other option is to give up an die now. I think most people would take a risk in the future risk vs certain death now. Also, it's not that hard to wear a medalert or other sign, even a tattoo.

Re:Recipe for disaster? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593213)

Before defib there's always a check (mini EKG) performed to see whether it is really necessary. Defibs are designed to defibrillate - so to apply one, first you diagnose fibrillations. You won't see any of these with this - nor any heart activity at all. Instead you'll see a HUGE implantation scar.
If reasoning starts to set in, this should tell them to get the knives out and do some debugging, instead of just frying the hardware...

Re:Recipe for disaster? (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593231)

She probably has a medical bracelet.

Re:Recipe for disaster? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593233)

She should put tattoos on her neck and wrists explaining her condition.

Re:Recipe for disaster? (4, Informative)

Smelly Jeffrey (583520) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593275)

Automated external defibrillators, such as the Physio-Control LifePak 500, will only administer a shock if they detect a valid shockable rhythm, i.e. ventricular fibrillation [wikipedia.org] . This AED will not shock anyone or anything that does not have that rhythm present.

Manual external defibrillators, such as the Physio-Control LifePak 12, which may only be used by EMT-I or EMT-P (Paramedics) in my home state, can be used to administer a shock regardless of the presence or absence of any cardiac rhythm. This requires a manual override, and from what I have seen, is used even less often than the precordial thump [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Recipe for disaster? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593301)

Yes, too risky.

Better just not have a heart at all and drop dead now.

Re:Recipe for disaster? (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593653)

The AED will only shock when it analyzes the electrical pulses to be within certain patterns like Ventricular Fibrillation, et al. The manual ones rely on a trained person doing the same analysis.

With an electrical heart, the pattern generated would not look anything like vfib or vtach, so no shock would be warranted.

Unlike TV and movies, you do not shock on asystole.

Awesome... (3, Funny)

pohl (872) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593105)

...now I only need to come up with the perfect crime that only a person with no pulse could get away with and I can cash-in on a screenplay for an episode of CSI.

Re:Awesome... (5, Funny)

simoncpu was here (1601629) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593283)

That has already been done with Star Trek TNG, Episode 148, where a Takaran sabotaged a test and faked his own death in order to discredit a Ferengi scientist and steal the metaphysic shield technology for use as a weapon.

Re:Awesome... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593413)

Metaphasic [memory-alpha.org] is about radiation. Metaphysic [manizone.co.uk] is about quartz crystals with divine powers. Keep 'em straight, or turn in your geek card.

Re:Awesome... (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593333)

Might not be that hard actually. Just practice not to respond to anything with movements or anything. Hospital staff cant feel your pulse and declare you death. If you go on with your plan, I do however suggest that you take care of NOT to get into cremation and that you have someone to actually dig you back from the grave too :)

Re:Awesome... (1)

Pitr (33016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593591)

Only thing I can think of is how it might mess w/ lie detector results, which are at least in part related to pulse rate...

Blood pressure issues? (4, Interesting)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593125)

The article doesn't address this, but I'm a little concerned by the idea of a pulseless system. On the one hand, there is no pressure spike, but on the other hand, the pressure never lets up. I'[m curious what effect this sort of device will have on strokes and other blood flow disturbances. The steady pulse-and-release rhythm constantly tugs at potential clots in different directions, presumably breaking up many incipient clots. Will a steady flow system do the same?

Re:Blood pressure issues? (4, Insightful)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593143)

That said, I'm sure the 30 year old with the transplant would be happy to have any extra years. If it kills her at age 50, but keeps her alive until then, it's hard to complain.

Re:Blood pressure issues? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593371)

Ya, people using steady-flow systems tend to die of strokes and other clotting problems. The body just isn't designed for constant blood flow.

Re:Blood pressure issues? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593523)

people using steady-flow systems tend to die of strokes and other clotting problems.

John Titor! You've returned!

Since this the first person with this, do they eventually get the bugs worked out of it, or is it still a problem in the future?

screw the EMTs for a second... (1)

theguywhorunspetesbr (1224632) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593169)

emergency personnel aside for a second, this doesn't seem right. seriously? there's gotta be some kind of physical problem w/ that... oh, in case you're wondering, i'm not a medical professional

They must have given it to my ex (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593173)

Take my wife's pulse, please!

Re:They must have given it to my ex (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593519)

Kinda difficult when she's under the patio, isn't it?

What about clotting? (3, Interesting)

cyberjock1980 (1131059) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593197)

I'm no med student. I'm just curious. I had heard that blood clotting relies on the blood remaining still for a period of time. Normally your pulse still allows for clotting because of the brief period of time that the blood doesn't flow. If you get a cut, you will bleed. In this case if the blood never stops moving will the individual bleed to death from something as simple as a papercut?

But at the same time, if that were the case how did the patient survive the surgery?

Re:What about clotting? (5, Insightful)

yincrash (854885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593441)

I think you just proved that what you heard was wrong.

Arterial contraction (2, Insightful)

angrytuna (599871) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593227)

Wouldn't this cause problems with perfusion? As I understand it, the arteries absorb some of the force of the heart's contraction due to their elasticity, and reuse it when they contract in turn to send the blood to more distal points in the body. It's been suggested that increased arterial stiffness is associated with the development of cardiovascular disease, and it seems like this might cause a similar effect over time. If you're getting an artificial heart, perhaps this point is moot, and from the story, it sounds like she doesn't have a choice, but I wonder if it would be an issue.

Kinda like a rotary... (4, Funny)

Nexus7 (2919) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593251)

You know,
      piston engine go boing boing boing... rotary go mmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

Re:Kinda like a rotary... (4, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593565)

Pfff, stop being such a wankle.

Does she feel any different? (5, Interesting)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593281)

Having always had a heartbeat since birth, I can only assume that I can feel it beat, but am ignoring it. Obviously there are exceptions where I can very much feel and hear my pulse, and am very well aware of it.

She'll never feel that again.

Does she notice?

Re:Does she feel any different? (4, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593657)

Without the implant, she won't feel anything again. There's no way to put this other than that it's a life-changing event. Many things after this will be different from the way they were before. But generally a life-changing event is to be preferred over a life-ending event.

No pulse? She's dead! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593287)

Oh wait, no she's not. She's fucking BREATHING.

You're all idiots to think doctors, nurses and paramedics can't see if a person is breathing or not.

Re:No pulse? She's dead! (1)

amoeba1911 (978485) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593483)

This is slashdot, not some dang medical school. We look at ONE aspect of something and dork around completely unaware that there are a thousand other things doctors learn in their 8 years of medical school that we haven't learned in our parents' basements.

MIT Article is OLD (1)

Thornburg (264444) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593395)

Just in case anyone else read the MIT article about how one of these things works, and noticed that they said "these things are nowhere near ready yet"... it's from 2006!

I think this tech is very cool, especially for people who don't have other options. I think that putting it to use in people who would have died otherwise will give us the data we need to know whether this is a better solution for everyone who needs a heart. It has the potential, eventually, to alleviate the need for transplants.

Jarvik Heart? (1)

Hel Toupee (738061) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593399)

Doesn't the Jarvik artificial heart work just like this?

Uncomfortable (1)

BoppreH (1520463) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593403)

It's me or after reading this suddenly all my vital organs functions become apparent?

It's a possibly huge medical breakthrough, but it sure is creepy.

Vonda N. McIntire, "Superluminal" (3, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593405)

In Vonda McIntyre's novel "Superluminal" starship pilots had to have their hearts replaced with a rotary pump because the rhythm of the heartbeat caused a breakdown in their bodies during FTL flight.

They called the pulse-less pilots "Aztecs".

Re:Vonda N. McIntire, "Superluminal" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593673)

I was going to make a comment about that story (I read the short story/novella version "Aztecs" that google tells me came first), but I figured it would be so obscure that nobody would get it ;)

Nice to know that someone else has read the same author - and now I know there's a novel version of it, I can put it on my ever-increasing "to read" list.
Thanks :)

New rules required. (5, Funny)

ThatsNotFunny (775189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593477)

I shall now have to amend my requirements for women that I will have sex with.

Pulse now optional.

Re:New rules required. (3, Funny)

Drunken Buddhist (467947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593587)

Normally I'd say that artificial hearts aren't designed for strenuous activity, but you're a slashdotter after all...

Wait a minute! (1)

werfu (1487909) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593497)

Do somebody remember that artificial heart are temporary solution waiting for a donor. Nobody can survive long with them.

I had an uncle who... (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593529)

I had a uncle that suffered massive heart failure who had a device [chfpatients.com] that is used in conjunction with the heart to keep it running. It's somewhat along the same concept except for that I'm not sure if it pulsed or if it was a constant pressure device. I want to say it was constant pressure but I'm not 100% sure.

Unfortunately he died from an infection after the transplant but he used the device for rougly 6 months and felt great on it.

Having no pulse isn't new (1)

timchampion (940519) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593541)

My co-worker's husband had a LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) implanted in his chest called the HeartMate II [thoratec.com] . It took enough work away from his heart that he had no pulse. The EMTs had to be trained that if they responded to a call for him, he would have no detectable pulse.

Now this is different in that it didn't replace his heart, but its a continuous pump, and results in no pulse.

The perfect sniper (5, Funny)

isThisNameAvailable (1496341) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593627)

Snipers have to concentrate to manage their heart rates and time their shots between beats. A little practice and we've now got the world's quickest shot at 1,000 meters.

These kinds of technologies... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593671)

Make you re-evaluate the standard by which we hold someone "living".

It's one thing if a person dies of natural old age, or at a terminal stage of progressive dementia, or simply due to brain injury -- the mind of the person, his character, his memory -- all is gone forever. There is no point in trying to keep the rest of the body alive (even though I'm sure some religious folks would disagree with this...)

It's completely another thing when someone dies of an organ failure that, by itself, doesn't destroy the person -- it just prevents functions necessary to sustain life further. The brain itself doesn't really need that much -- all it needs is a steady supply of fresh blood, containing the necessary nutrients, oxygen, and cellular content, at the correct temperature and pressure. But the body has to run a lot of different organs to keep that fresh blood coming.

Major organ failure (e.g. heart) was once considered synonymous with death. Now technology challenges that assumption. Sooner or later we will reach the day when either all organs (at least except the brain, although even that is questionable) will be viewed no differently than spare parts, replaceable at will when damaged. The human identity would be separated from the supporting organs, and considering a human dead just because his heart failed would be as ridiculous as considering the data on your computer gone just because the power supply failed. Yes, you can't access it without power, but all we need is some mechanisms from it being permanently lost every bloody time we turn off the power supply. In hard drives, this already works (nonvolatile storage). In humans, we'll find solutions to keep that blood coming to the brain, no matter what organ fails, and in a moment's notice. The only vulnerable body part would be the brain.

Of course, just like with a hard drive, we'll also sooner or later learn to back up brain data, which opens a whole new can of worms and completely re-defines our idea of life and humanity, but that's a story for another day.

I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29593703)

I for one welcome our new pulseless overlords... anonymously of course, I wouldn't want them to know that I know about their pulselessness.... they might decide to assimilate me!

Playing dead (1)

Elwar123 (1053566) | more than 4 years ago | (#29593709)

Her friends are going to get tired of her pulling the old "playing dead" trick on them.
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