Take it to Heart: The artificial Heart - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

By reporter: Julie Humphreys

Take it to Heart: The artificial Heart

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While heart disease deaths in the U.S. are down, deaths from heart failure are up.   The artificial heart is one answer to an increasing number of people with end stage heart disease.

We've come a long way since Seattle's Barney Clark became the first recipient of a permanent artificial heart back in 1982. He lived 112 days.

Dr. Timothy Icenogle, a Sacred Heart transplant surgeon says "The first 5 patients died poor lingering deaths but all were pioneering heros in my mind.  We learned a lot from them."

Those things inlcude how to keep patients, including Bob Mccleave and Craig Larson, alive for years on their artificial assist devices. The men are two of a dozen or more in spokane waiting for heart transplants. Their devices are a bridge to transplantation...temporary..as is the case with most people with such devices. But Sacred Heart Transplant Surgeon Dr. Timothy Icenogle says in the future more and more people will use artificial heart devices as a destination therapy,permanent.

The devices are getting smaller, and more effiecient. .Soon, Dr. Icenogle says they will be tailor made for patients...an increasing number of.patients who have already had heart surgeries, a stent or other medical procedures and management that has failed...

Dr. Icenogle says "The more injured heart muscle,the longer the patients live..turns into a higher reservoir of patients with end stage heart disease."

The push is on for a gold standard mechanical heart in part because of a decreasing pool of heart donors.

But it's a heavily regulated, long process requiring FDA approval.

Sacred Heart is involved in many studies of investigational heart device