Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT)
CRT or biventricular pacing is a special type of pacemaker for certain patients with heart failure; it is used to recover the heart’s rhythm and treat the symptoms related to Arrhythmia. CRT can be equally effective for both men and women.
The procedure comprises of implanting a small pacemaker, usually just below the collarbone. The entrenched device paces both the left and right ventricles (both lower chambers, hence also called Bi-Ventricular pacemaker) of the heart concurrently. Three wires (leads) attached to the device monitor the heart rate to identify heart rate abnormalities and produce tiny pulses of electricity to rectify them. In simple terms, it is “resynchronizing” the destabilized heart to improve its effectiveness.
Benefits of CRT
- CRT improves the heart’s effectiveness and surges blood flow
- Increase the force of muscle contractions in the heart
- Alleviation of a few heart failure symptoms - such as shortness of breath
- Lessening hospitalization and morbidity while improving the quality of life
- Studies show that CRT can increase the life-span of patients
Who needs CRT?
CRT can be of immense help for heart failure patients with moderate to stark symptoms and for those whose left and right heart chambers do not beat in unanimity. Conversely, CRT is not operative for those with mild heart failure symptoms. It is important to know about heart failure to understand CRT better.
The term "heart failure" does not mean that the heart has stopped working or that there's nothing that could be done; Heart failure actually means that the heart is not pumping blood as well as it should be.
The body depends on the heart's ability to pump nutrient-rich blood to the body's cells and deliver oxygen. With a heart failure, the destabilized heart can't source the cells with enough blood. This leads to fatigue and shortness of breath, day to day activities like walking or climbing stairs can become very difficult. Although heart failure is a serious condition, many people with heart failure lead a full, near-normal life with timely treatment, medications and healthy lifestyle modifications.
- A prior heart attack
- Coronary artery disease (clogged blood vessels)
- High blood pressure
- A virus
- An arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm)
- Diseases of the heart muscle or valves
- Shortness of breath (dyspnoea)
- Chronic coughing or wheezing – Fluid congestion in the lungs is common with heart failure
- Fluid retention or swelling
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Confusion – Confusion, impaired thinking or mental sluggishness due to reduced blood flow to the brain
Treatment for heart failure includes the following:
- Diet and lifestyle changes
- Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) or other implanted devices
- Surgery to repair structural damage
- Heart transplantation
- Treatment of underlying causes