1st U.S. Female Patient Discharged With The Total Artificial Heart Powered By The Freedom Portable Driver

The 13.5 lb Freedom(tm) portable driver and the 418-lb “Big Blue” hospital driver for powering the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart.

21-Year-Old Mom Returns Home to 9-Month-Old Son and Husband to Wait for Matching Donor Heart

BioMedicalNews.org, March 2, 2011, Tucson AZ USA — Medical E-Mail News™ / March 02 2011 — On Jan. 20, Marcela Padilla, 21, became the first woman and the fifth person in the U.S. to leave the hospital using the Freedom® portable driver to power her SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart. The Tucson mom was discharged from University Medical Center (UMC) just in time to celebrate her 21st birthday at home with her husband and 9-month-old son Santiago.

“It was so exciting to go home and be with my baby,” Padilla said. “I feel really good now and I can take care of my son.”

Padilla is participating in an FDA-approved Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) clinical studyof the Freedom driver, the first U.S. portable driver designed to power SynCardia’s Total Artificial Heart both inside and outside the hospital. Currently, the only FDA-approved driver for powering the Total Artificial Heart is the 418-lb “Big Blue” hospital driver, which confines patients to the hospital until they receive a heart transplant.

“It’s a win on multiple levels,” said Dr. M. Cristin a Smith, director of Heart Transplant and Ventricular Assist Device Services at UMC. “[The Freedom driver] gives the patient the opportunity to be home surrounded by loved ones. The hospital and the health system also win. You don’t have someone stuck in a hospital bed. The cost savings to the health care system is going to be pretty significant.”

Padilla gave birth to her son on April 25, 2010, but four days later, began to experience shortness of breath and fatigue. The pregnancy may have strained her heart, which was already weak due to a congenital condition, and she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. Her twin sister had received a heart transplant at age 11.

Padilla was implanted with the Total Artificial Heart on Sept. 24, 2010. Once stable, she was switched from the Big Blue driver to the Freedom portable driver. She and her family completed extensive training on use of the Freedom driver and in January, she was ready to leave the hospital to wait for a matching donor heart at home.

“We’re so excited we are able to provide this first time opportunity to such a wonderful young mom and her family,” Dr. Smith said. “It’s just heart-warming.”

Marcela Padilla is participating in an FDA-approved

Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) clinical study

of the Freedom driver, the first U.S. portable driver

designed to power SynCardia’s Total Artificial Heart

both inside and outside the hospital.

About SynCardia Systems, Inc.

SynCardia Systems, Inc.is the Tucson-based manufacturer of the world’s only FDA, Health Canada and CE approved Total Artificial Heart: the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart. There have been more than 900 implants of the Total Artificial Heart, accounting for more than 210 patient years of life on the device.

Originally used as a permanent replacement heart, the Total Artificial Heart is currently approved as a bridge to human heart transplant for people dying from end-stage biventricular failure. The Total Artificial Heart is the only device that provides immediate, safe blood flow of up to 9.5 L/min through both ventricles.


Medscape.com, March 2, 2011, by Lisa Nainggolan, (Naples, Italy) — The largest meta-analysis so far conducted examining the impact of potassium intake on cardiovascular outcomes has found that higher dietary consumption of this mineral is associated with lower rates of stroke and could also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and total CVD [1].

The results apply to all sectors of society and not just to specific “at-risk” subgroups, say Dr Lanfranc D’Elia (University of Naples Medical School, Italy) and colleagues in the study, published in the March 8, 2011 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. “Potassium intake may be increased by well-described dietary changes, mainly an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption, as recommended by all guidelines to prevent vascular diseases,” they state.

Most doctors are not aware of what huge benefits one might derive from this measure.

The researchers are not the first to urge people to eat more potassium-containing foods, and recent updated USDA dietary guidelines recommend increasing intake of foods rich in potassium. Senior author of this new research, Dr Pasquale Strazzullo (University of Naples Medical School, Italy), told heartwire that it is important to convey this to clinicians: “Most doctors are not aware of what huge benefits one might derive from this measure,” he observes.

But doctors must also be careful not to confuse patients with too much detail on different nutrients, he says. Simple advice to eat more fruits and vegetables, in particular those that are very rich in potassium–including bananas, tomatoes, oranges, apricots, and most legumes–is probably best, he says. “The most practical advice we can give is that people should have five or six servings of fruit and vegetables a day,” he says.

Potassium Intake Far Lower Than Recommended in All Participants

The researchers identified 11 studies on the association between habitual dietary potassium intake and incidence of vascular events over the past 30 years, including 247 510 participants with follow-up of five to 19 years, for their meta-analysis. There were 7066 strokes, 3058 CHD events, and 2497 total CVD events. Potassium intake was assessed by 24-hour dietary recall in two studies, by food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) in six, and by 24-hour urinary excretion in three.

In the pooled analysis, a 1.64-g (42 mmol)/day higher potassium intake–which Strazzullo says is equivalent to around three pieces of fruit high in potassium–was associated with a 21% lower risk of stroke (risk ratio 0.79; p=0.0007), with a trend toward lower risk of CHD and total CVD that attained statistical significance after the exclusion of a single cohort (RR 0.93; p=0.03 and RR 0.74; p=0.0037).

In all of the populations studied in the present meta-analysis, potassium intake was far lower than the recommended intake of 100 mmol or more per day, they note.

The Italian doctors say the protective effect of potassium against stroke is in part due to its BP-lowering effects, particularly in hypertensive individuals and in those with elevated sodium intake, but also likely due to other properties of the mineral, such as the inhibition of free radical formation, as demonstrated in experimental studies.

Increasing Potassium=Reducing Salt: Prevent One Million Strokes/Year

They add that the magnitude of risk reduction with increasing potassium intake by 1.64 g per day is similar to that which would result from lowering dietary sodium consumption by 5 g (85 mmol) per day and would translate “into a reduction of 1 155 000 stroke deaths per year on a worldwide scale.”

But Strazzullo says doctors must tread carefully when it comes to giving advice on sodium and potassium intake: “In general, there is a rule that it is not a good idea to convey two key messages together; it’s much better to give them separately,” he says. “That’s why when we talk about reducing sodium we don’t talk about increasing potassium intake. People do know about salt, but they are not so familiar with potassium and where it can be found. So perhaps it is sufficient, and better, that doctors talk to patients and people in general more about increasing fruit, vegetable, and legume intake.”

Of course, “some education is not bad, and one could mention the word potassium,” he adds, but stresses that it is important that people are not misguided into thinking that they can make up for excessive salt intake just by increasing potassium consumption. “One should not consider the two as alternatives, and we should be careful not to give this impression,” he stresses.

“In fact, in the DASH study, they found that reduction of sodium intake had a BP-lowering effect that was additive to that of fruit and vegetable intake,” Strazzullo adds.

The authors report that they have no conflicts of interest.



1.        D’Elia L, Barba G, Cappuccio FP, et al. Potassium intake, stroke and cardiovascular disease. A meta-analysis of prospective studies. J Am Coll Cardiol 2011; 57:1210-1219.

Snoring black bear  —  Video by Øivind Tøien

The-Scientist.com, March 2, 2011, by Megan Scudellari  —  Despite maintaining high body temperatures during the winter, bears really do hibernate, concludes a first-of-its-kind glimpse into the annual dormancy of black bears. The research, published this week in Science, resolves the longstanding question about the bears’ winter activities and offers novel insights into hibernation physiology, such as identifying a dramatic drop in metabolic rate.

Bears hibernate on average 5 to 7 months a year, during which time they don’t eat, drink, urinate or defecate. Øivind Tøien and colleagues at the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks monitored the metabolic activity and body temperature of five black bears day and night for five months, an unprecedented undertaking.

The bears, captured by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, were implanted with radio transmitters to continuously record body temperature, muscle activity and heart rate. With some encouragement from the researchers, the bears hibernated in artificial dens equipped with infrared cameras and activity monitors. The air in the dens was continuously collected to record oxygen consumption, a key measure of metabolic rate. Tøien designed software to control the system and process the data from the various tracking devices.

During hibernation, the bears demonstrated only a moderate drop in body temperature — from 38 degrees Celsius to 33 degrees Celsius — compared to other hibernators, like the arctic squirrel, which can drop its body temperature below freezing. In stark contrast, however, the bears’ heart rates slowed from 55 beats per minute to 14 beats per minute and their metabolic activity was dramatically reduced to only 25 percent of normal levels, and remained suppressed for up to three weeks after the bears woke up.
The results settle a long-standing debate about whether bears truly hibernate. Due to their high body temperature during dormancy, some researchers have questioned whether bears hibernate like the arctic squirrel and other small mammals that reduce their body temperatures and metabolism for long periods of time.

To finish reading this article go to the website…… Watching bears sleep – The Scientist – Magazine of the Life Sciences

Reference: Tøien, Ø., et al., “Hibernation in Black Bears: Independence of Metabolic Suppression from Body Temperature,” Science, 331:906-9.