Heart failure generally results from a weakening of the heart muscle so that the heart can no longer pump enough blood to supply the body's needs. The disease be caused by a heart attack, high blood pressure or it can be inherited. Often, the cause is unknown.
The OPTIMIZER II is an implantable device, similar in size and shape to an artificial heart pacemaker, but that's where the similarity ends. An artificial pacemaker makes sure the heartbeat doesn't go too slow by initiating contractions when there's a missed beat. In contrast, the OPTIMIZER II senses when a beat has already started, then sends an electrical signal to strengthen the heart's contraction.
Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved devices that deliver a different form of heart failure treatment called "cardiac resychronization therapy," or CRT, for treating a subgroup of patients with heart failure, said Daniel Burkhoff, M.D., Ph.D., a co-author of the report and a consultant to the maker of OPTIMIZER II.
"CRT appears to be useful in about 20 percent to 30 percent of people with heart failure who also have an abnormality in the timing heart chamber contractractions," said Burkhoff, an associate professor of medicine at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.
"Our goal is to develop a treatment for the greater number of heart failure patients who don't necessarily have a problem with synchrony," he said.
The researchers enrolled 25 patients with moderately severe heart failure from medical centers in Austria, Germany and Italy. Their average age was 62 years, and 23 were men. To be eligible for the study, patients had to have a heart
Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association