Heart surgeon Dr. Volkmar Falk on the Zurich Heart Project and improving the odds for patients


The statistics are staggering: a patient who is diagnosed with heart failure for the first time in his life has a 25 percent chance of dying within one year, said Dr. Volkmar Falk of the German Heart Center Berlin. Although the gold standard for end-stage heart failure is transplantation, there aren’t enough heart donors to make that a feasible option for all patients.

That’s why in 2012, when faced with a complication rate he found “unacceptable,” Dr. Falk founded the Zurich Heart Project. Since then, he’s been working alongside research groups at ETH Zurich, University Hospital Zurich, and the University of Zurich to build a fully implantable artificial heart and improve the odds for patients.

Dr. Falk joined Sylvia Cunningham during Berlin Science Week to talk about the numbers related to heart failure and what makes the Zurich Heart Project unique.

Photo by Jan Welchering courtesy ETH Zurich.