How Do You Fix A Broken Heart? Turn On Your 3D Printer

Health |  2 min. read

February is American Heart Month – which means it’s a good time to think about eating well, exercise, and the other things that keep our hearts healthy.

That 11 ounces of muscle (about the size of two hands held together) – is VERY busy:  beating about 100,000 times a day – pumping a gallon-and-a-half of blood every minute.

That – is a pretty remarkable piece of work.  But if something does go wrong with our 11-ounce marvel, it’s much better if your doctor isn’t just poking around in there to see where the problem is, and to fix it.  And that has us thinking about the innovations in modern medicine that help our hearts when something does go wrong.

In particular, we’re thinking about the plastic heart:  a 3D-printed heart that your doctor can use to study, and practice on – before operating.

Because this isn’t an off-the-shelf model heart – it’s a 3D model of your very individual and specific heart (because our hearts are not exactly alike).  The printing is done from a “blueprint” of you, based on CT scans.  The model heart is printed with photosensitive acrylic and methacrylic resins, which in turn, are made from petrochemicals, like propylene.

Watch how it’s made (and why it matters):  University of Washington Medicine.

So, eat good food, get out and exercise, and spare a moment to think on a double miracle – our own hearts, and (when it’s needed) that perfect, plastic model heart.

And who knows, maybe one day, the next innovation will be a plastic heart, that isn’t just a model – but a heart that can replace a failing human heart.  Stay tuned.

(But meantime, just wondering – if they make a model of your heart, to prepare for surgery – when you go home, do you get to take the model with you?

Well, we’d ask.)