A team of Emory researchers (from ECLH's Carlyle Fraser Heart Center and Emory University School of Medicine Divisions of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Cardiothoracic Anesthesia, and Cardiology) have successfully employed an innovative alternative technique for biventricular resynchronization that can be successfully performed in this high-risk patient group with minimal risk and no exposure to potentially harmful ionizing radiation.
Considered the first major therapeutic breakthrough for heart failure patients since the development of specialized heart failure drugs, biventricular resynchronization therapy uses a special pacemaker to stimulate the heart's ventricles to beat at the same time. A small pulse generator (about the size of two stacked silver dollars) is implanted beneath the skin in the shoulder region and delivers synchronized electrical stimulation to three chambers of the heart through insulated wires (leads), allowing more efficient pumping of blood throughout the body.
The result for many patients is a dramatic improvement in exercise capacity, quality of life and functional status, allowing those who previously had limited ability to perform common tasks to resume a more normal daily routine. Some patients who were waiting for heart transplants have been taken off the transplant list due to their improvement.
" However, although the device can be successfully placed this way in most patients, technical difficulties may preclude establishing a connection to the left ventricle in some people because of the difficulty in getting the pacing
Contact: Sherry Baker
Emory University Health Sciences Center