Dr Omar Hallak, founder , chairman of 4 TS with Humaid Al Qatami Image Credit:

Dubai: In two years’ time, Artificial Hearts (AH) will be available in the UAE to bring relief to cardiac patients and those who are on heart transplant lists, said a senior cardiac surgeon.

Dr Omar Hallak, head of the cardiac surgery department of King’s College Hospital London, spoke to Gulf News on the sidelines of the 4TS cardiology conference being held in Dubai from February 14-16.

Dr Hallak, founder-chairman of the conference, said: “Over 100,000 people in the UAE are suffering from heart failure owing to factors such as diabetes, obesity, smoking and hypertension. Several thousand CVD (cardiovascular disease) patients are on the heart transplant list but there are only a limited number of donors. Artificial Heart, that has a life of five years or more, offers patients new [hope]. Clinical trials on AH are already under way and in some countries of Europe as well as in the US, this heart has been transplanted successfully. We will be able to use this [in the UAE] in two years’ time, post approvals from the international bodies.”

Artificial Heart is made of metal alloys that are compatible with the human body and is fitted with a special type of rubber to demarcate valves and is battery operated with the charge lasting for 12 hours with inbuilt alarms to alert the patient to change batteries. (A battery pack that charges the device is worn externally).

“A healthy human heart is able to pump five litres of blood every minute and in patients with heart conditions, sometimes their heart is not able to pump more than one litre of blood. This causes breathlessness. The Artificial Heart can completely take over the function of the original human heart and pump five litres of blood per minute and provide a CVD patient a better quality of life.”

Cardiac MRI

Talking about other advances available to CVD patients in the UAE, Dr Hallak said at least three hospitals now offer Cardiac MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). “Rashid Hospital, King’s College Hospital London and the American Hospital offer this facility which allows the physician to see the heart in multiple layers, understand the structure and condition of the heart muscle and catch any tissue which may not be getting enough oxygen and intervene well before CVD sets in.”

3D printed silicone heart valves are also going to be made available and would help in replacing diseased aortic valves in patients, he said. “Now surgeons are also conducting advance minimally invasive repair of the mitral and aortic valves using a catheter, a procedure offered at the Al Qassimi Hospital, Sharjah.

Inaugurating the conference, Humaid Al Qutami, chairman of the board and director general of DHA, said: “We should not stop our efforts or surrender to the challenges that cardiovascular diseases and other chronic diseases are imposing on us.”

WHAT IS 4TS?

In its fifth edition, 4TS is one of the largest interventional cardiovascular conferences in the Middle East. The three-day conference has been organised under the patronage of the DHA in collaboration with American College of Cardiology (UAE Chapter), Emirates Cardiac Society, and International Society of Endovascular Specialists.