Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy

Winter 2010 CSANews Issue 77  |  Posted date : Dec 06, 2010.Back to list

According to a series of new Canadian-led medical trials, a new implantable device has the potential to help patients with heart failure better than standard defibrillators, which are the best currently used option.

The device, called CRT (for Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy) keeps the different parts of the heart working in unison, which allows it to beat at a continuous, regular pace.

The study, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that participants in the CRT group were 25% less likely to be hospitalized with heart failure or related symptoms.

Heart failure is on the rise, as more people are surviving heart attacks but are also left with damaged hearts. Failure occurs particularly when the left ventricle is no longer able to pump enough blood to other vital organs. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, a current estimated 500,000 Canadians have been diagnosed with heart failure (with 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year), and as many as 50 per cent of those diagnosed die within five years. Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy has the potential to save thousands of Canadian lives.

Led by the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, the study involved 1,800 patients in centres across Canada, Australia and Europe, and lasted for three years. Study results show that patients fitted with CRT devices were 25 per cent less likely to be hospitalized, as opposed to patients who were fitted with standard defibrillators. However, those fitted with CRT devices were twice as likely to experience complications from the procedure, such as infection or internal bleeding, although none were considered life-threatening.