Research from UBC’s Okanagan Heart Valve Performance Lab (HVPL) may bring mechanical heart valve reliability to a new level.
The HVPL team has developed a way to improve blood flow through the valves and has a new design that now closely matches real heart valves.
“Despite more than 40 years of research, we are still chasing the goal of creating mechanical heart valves that perform consistently and seamlessly inside the human body,” HVPL lead researcher Dr. Hadi Mohammadi said.
“The way blood travels through the body is very unique to a person’s physiology, so a ‘one-size fits all’ valve has always been a real challenge.”
Mohammadi and doctoral student Arpin Bhullar developed a mechanical bileaflet valve – two semicircular leaflets that pivot on hinges – allowing consistent blood flow and ensuring the flow is in one direction.
Mohammadi said current artificial valves have a small risk of blood clots and blood backflow, but his new design fixes that problem.
“Our findings show our apex heart valve maintains consistent flow as a result of its breakthrough design – specifically the valve’s curvature which mitigates clotting,” he said.
The research team’s findings have been published in the Journal of Medical Engineering and Technology, though additional testing and experimentation is still needed to determine the valve’s effectiveness.
Researchers are now developing 3D-printed, carbon and aluminum prototypes of the valve for further testing.