What is CRT and how can it help your heart?
Arrhythmias are irregular heart rhythms and can have a variety of causes, including older age, heart damage, medications and genetics. In heart failure patients, CRT, or biventricular pacing, is used to help improve the heart’s rhythm and the symptoms associated with the arrhythmia.
The procedure involves implanting a half-dollar sized pacemaker, usually just below the collarbone. Three wires (leads) connected to the device monitor the heart rate to detect heart rate irregularities and emit tiny pulses of electricity to correct them, resynchronizing the heart.
Benefits of CRT
Because CRT improves the heart’s efficiency and increases blood flow, patients have reported alleviations of some heart failure symptoms, such as shortness of breath. While researchers are still working to fully understand the benefits of CRT, clinical studies suggest decreases in hospitalization and morbidity as well as improvements in quality of life.
Who is a candidate for CRT?
In general, CRT is for heart failure patients with moderate to severe symptoms and whose left and right heart chambers do not beat in unison.
However, CRT is not effective for everyone and is not for those with:
- Mild heart failure symptoms.
- Diastolic heart failure.
- Chambers that beat together already.
- Advanced malignancy requiring palliative care.
- Chronic disease with a life expectancy of less than one year.
- Acute decompensated heart failure.
- Active infection or sepsis.
It is also not suitable for patients who have not fully explored correcting the condition through medication therapies. To date, studies show CRT to be equally effective for both men and women.
Talk with your health care professional about your suitability for CRT. They can consider your medical history as well as age and desired level of intervention. CRT is also often combined with other treatments to achieve the best results.