This article was originally published in Start Up
Two areas of heart disease in want of therapeutic solutions are attracting device innovation: atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure. Successful developers will be rewarded by large markets with little in terms of current competition.
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Acorn Cardiovascular Inc.
Acorn Cardiovascular Inc. has developed a device for the treatment of congestive heart failure. It operates under the same theory as cardiac wrapping, but is less invasive and less costly. Acorn's "jacket" made of synthetic fibers surrounds the heart and constrains it, preventing the cascade of progressive enlargement and weakening that accompanies CHF. According to Acorn's president and CEO Donald G. Rohrbaugh, the jacket's fibers are knitted into a unique configuration designed to conform closely to the heart's exterior. Special compliance properties provide uniform contact so that there are no particular stress points. During implantation, the device is tailored to provide a 5% reduction in the diameter of the heart. That reduction immediately helps to absorb some of the stress in the heart's wall and allows the myocardium to recover. "It's like providing an elastic sock on a tired leg muscle," says Rohrbaugh. "It absorbs some of those fatiguing stresses, and when the myocardium recovers, the heart is able to improve its contractility and relaxation properties so that it pumps more efficiently."