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Capturing the beauty of our heartbeat ;

Capturing the beauty of our heartbeat

Plenty of lyrics and songs have been dedicated to our heart and specifically love. But what is not as well-known or documented is the fact that more than seven million people in the UK are living with cardiovascular disease.

A team of scientists at King’s, led by Dr Pablo Lamata from the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences have been working with patients who suffer from a heart condition called aortic stenosis, one of the most common and most serious valve disease problems.

By combining imaging and computational modelling technologies, the team have been able to sense pressure differences inside the heart and measure accurately the impact caused by an obstruction. This has led to them being able to accurately identify the faulty valves and growth problems caused by congenital cardiac conditions.

The permanent motion of blood is what keeps us alive. Each day, our heart beats around 100,000 times and pumps about 2000 litres of blood around the body.– Dr Pablo Lamata, School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences

“The aorta, the largest artery in the human body, is responsible for transporting this blood to every cell in the body. With some conditions our blood flow can be partially obstructed and friction between blood particles starts to cause energy loss. When this happens, the heart needs to work a lot harder to compensate for the loss and in extreme cases, may cause the heart to fail.

“We use the pressure drop across an obstruction as a way to decide treatment for patients with valve conditions”, he said. “With the help of this technology, our research is able to provide non-invasive and accurate measurements, and we are currently investigating, supported by the Wellcome Trust and the British Heart Foundation, how this will help doctors define individual treatments and optimal timings for surgery.”

Stand inside a beating heart

Dr Lamata’s work caught the attention of London based design studio Cellule, who wanted the general public to explore and understand the beauty of the heart flow. Cellule has partnered with animator Lucy Hardcastle to create a real time interactive installation. Together, they have developed an exhibit for the London Design Festival, called ‘Kalostasis’, an interactive piece of art about the blood flow of the heart. “Our installation is the sum of the stories our patients shared with us”, Dr Lamata said. “We asked them what is was like to live with a heart condition and their experience helped us create this beautiful piece of art.”

Kalostasis takes you on a journey inside the human aorta, the largest artery in our body, to experience the pulsing flow of blood out of the heart. Standing inside the installation will replicate what happens when there is an obstruction in the aortic valve.

Your heart is a beautiful and well-tuned machine that needs to be cared for. The piece aims to visualise the beauty and complexity of the blood flow and motion that keeps us alive, and our body’s ability to maintain a state of balance with every beat. – Dr Pablo Lamata

“By being part of the London Design Festival, we want to create awareness of heart conditions and how important it is we look after our most vital organ.”

Kalostasis is shown at the V&A Museum during the London Design Festival from Saturday 14 September until Sunday 22 September. For more information visit the V&A website.

In this story

Pablo Lamata

Pablo Lamata


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