Iranian Professor Treats Cardiac Diseases Using Smart Valves

Monday, November 26, 2007

An Iranian professor of University of South Carolina, the United States, is taking advantage of engineering and mathematical sciences to invent smart heart valves and has raised hopes that a wide spectrum of patients with intransigent cardiac diseases could be treated by installing smart valves in only 20 minutes.

Arash Kheradvar, the Iranian professor at the University of South Carolina who has invented the new method, maintains that smart heart is one of the projects he is currently working on.

“In this process, which is of high importance in cardiovascular engineering, I have used engineering and mathematical tools to study cardiac diseases from a new standpoint. Basically, the main reason for this important scientific field to come into being was remarkable technological breakthroughs since early 20th century. However, during the past 100 years, cardiac diseases have been number one killer of humans. Therefore, we thought that perhaps our approaches to such diseases have been incorrect and we decided to use mathematics and engineering to treat them,” he explained.

The scientist noted that he is working with Dr. Morteza Gharib from California Institute of Technology to produce such valves.

“In this technology, there is no more need to carry out open heart surgery to replace valves. One of the main advantages of this critical technology is that it can be applied by cardiologists and there is no need for presence of heart surgeons,” he added.

Kheradvar further stated that patients would experience no pain in the short process they would go through.

“To take smart, artificial valves to their location, we would use a small instrument which is like a tube and is inserted into cardiac arteries after the valve is mounted on it. It is then directed toward the heart,” he said.

The Iranian professor noted that the cardiac valve that he has designed is made of a special smart alloy, which he calls “smart metal”.

“Before entering the patient’s body, it bears no similarity to a cardiac valve. However, after entering the artery and approaching the designated location, its special properties allow the valve to change and be installed at its place,” he said.

Kheradvar stated that the main challenge he was facing was to make the smart valves as small as possible, so that, they could be used for infants or children ageing 2-3 years.

“The new technology will obviate the need for complicated cardiac surgeries, which at times, take 4-5 hours. The patient will be cured through a 20-minute operation without general anesthesia…. This project got underway in 2004 when I was working at California Institute of

Technology. It started in cooperation with Dr. Morteza Gharib, another Iranian researcher working in the United States, and has progressed satisfactorily up to the present time,” he said.

A graduate of Tehran University, Dr. Kheradvar then migrated to the United States to continue his medical research. He has obtained a doctorate in medical engineering, cardiovascular engineering subspecialty, from California Institute of Technology.

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