A Method to Prevent Heart Dilation and Progression to Heart Failure

Stanford University, 2006 - $20,000

Congestive heart failure is a lethal disease characterized by the inability of the heart to pump enough blood to meet the body's demands. Up to two-thirds of cases of CHF are initially caused by a heart attack, putting the cardiac wall under significant stress and triggering a series of changes that can cause the heart to enlarge. Currently there are no effective treatments for CHF, as drugs slow down but do not prevent the progression of the disease, and passive restraints to support the heart and prevent dilation are highly invasive and aimed only at individuals with end-stage CHF.

To combat these problems, this E-Team is developing a minimally invasive, polymer-based approach to physically support the heart of recent heart attack victims, preventing the heart from enlarging. The device involves the delivery of a primer and polymer that crosslink in the pericardial space around the heart. First, the heart is coated with the primer, which bonds to the heart surface. Next, the polymer is delivered to the same space and crosslinks with the primer, forming a thin elastic structure that provides physical support for the heart. The polymer will have enough elasticity to allow for proper filling and emptying of the heart, and will be biodegradable in order to provide support to the heart only during the vulnerable period immediately following a heart attack.