28 September 2021
The sympathetic nervous system is the stimulus for the cardiovascular system during physical and mental stress, but can exacerbate heart disease when over-activated. A new publication by authors from the Institute of Aerospace Medicine in the "European Journal of Heart Failure" examines for the first time the activity of the sympathetic nervous system of patients with heart failure before and after implantation of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). The research group led by Prof. Jens Tank, in cooperation with the cardiac surgeons of the Hannover Medical School, was able to show that an improvement in circulation after LVAD implantation often does not lead to a normalisation of sympathetic overactivation. It is possible that measurements of sympathetic nerve activity can be used in the future to further optimise the design and adaptation of cardiac assist devices.
The combination of space and cardiovascular medicine is no coincidence. Current LVAD systems are based on propellant pumps from space travel, which were further developed in cooperation between NASA engineers and physicians. Now, methods available at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine can help to closely examine and further develop the use of these technologies in humans.
Heusser K, Wittkoepper J, Bara C, Haverich A, Diedrich A, Levine BD, Schmitto JD, Jordan J, Tank J. Sympathetic vasoconstrictor activity before and after left ventricular assist device implantation in patients with end-stage heart failure. Eur J Heart Fail. 2021 Sep 8. doi: 10.1002/ejhf.2344. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34496114.