CRT Benefits Many Heart Failure Patients

Cardiac resynchronization therapy improves heart failure symptoms despite severity

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) In recent years there's been more of a push toward cardiac re-synchronization therapy to treat patients with significant heart failure. A new review suggests the therapy also may benefit those with mild heart failure symptoms.

Based on the findings the Guidelines Committee of the Heart Failure Society of America is now suggesting expanded use of the treatment.

"Ask your cardiologist if CRT could improve your longevity."

During CRT, a device is used to stimulate function of the heart's left ventricle to ensure contractions that are more efficient and coordinated. It has shown success in helping patients with moderate to severe heart failure live longer and enjoy an improved quality of life.

The new review, however, suggests a broader spectrum of heart failure patients may reap improvement from the procedure.

Dr. Randall C. Starling, senior author of the study from the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, said the findings supported the use of CRT for heart failure patients with reduced left ventricular ejection function across the spectrum of mild to moderate symptoms.

As part of the study the committee reviewed three large randomized clinical trials of CRT in patients with mild heart failure. They also reviewed several meta-analyses evaluating the therapy regardless of the severity of symptoms, finding that most heart failure patients would benefit.

"CRT is still a relatively new technology that seemed to come out of nowhere a few years ago," said HFSA President Dr. Barry Massie.

"However, growing evidence leaves little doubt about the value of this technology. Multiple trials have demonstrated that heart failure patients, whose hearts contract in a discordant manner, have more symptoms and poorer survival."

The idea that stimulating the heart electrically to improve its efficiency could have a profound effect was greeted with some skepticism but no longer. Multiple trials have demonstrated that this intervention makes patients feel better, prevents hospitalizations, and prolongs survival in heart failure patients."

Additional recommendations such as optimizing patient selection and identifying factors that help predict a favorable response to the therapy are expected in the future.

The review study suggesting the new guidelines was recently published in the Journal of Cardiac Failure.

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Review Date: 
March 5, 2012
Last Updated:
March 7, 2012