Heart failure is a serious condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While the prognosis for heart failure can be variable, researchers continue to find more accurate ways to diagnose and manage this complex condition. One of the most well-known treatments for managing heart failure is called Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT). This therapy involves sending electrical signals to promote synchronization between the left and right sides of the heart, with the hope that it could improve cardiac contractility and ultimately reduce symptoms associated with congestive heart failure. In this blog post, we will discuss how CRT works as well as its risks, benefits, indications and limitations in order to help you better understand how it may be beneficial in treating your own condition or a loved one’s.

CRT works by synchronizing the left and right chambers of the heart. It does this through an implantable device (a pacemaker or defibrillator) that sends electrical signals to both sides of the heart. These signals allow the two sides of the heart to contract together, thus improving cardiac contractility. This synchronization makes it easier for blood to be pumped throughout the body, alleviating symptoms associated with congestive heart failure such as shortness of breath and fatigue. Additionally, CRT can help reduce instances of dangerous abnormal rhythms, which are often linked to congestive heart failure. 

When considering whether CRT is a good option for managing your or a loved one’s heart condition, you should consider its risks, benefits, indications and limitations. Generally speaking, the risks associated with CRT are minimal and no more than what people experience from having a pacemaker or defibrillator implanted in the first place. On occasion, individuals may experience infection at the implant site or have skin irritation near the device placement site. 

The benefits of CRT can include improved cardiac contractility, lessened symptoms of congestive heart failure such as shortness of breath and fatigue and reduced instances of dangerous abnormal rhythms. It is also important to consider whether someone is a good candidate for CRT before undergoing treatment; those with left bundle branch block (LBBB) on an EKG are typically better candidates for CRT. When there is a delay in one of the branches, it can impair coordination between the ventricles and lead to inefficient pumping of the left ventricle. By delivering targeted electric pulses through leads implanted near each chamber of the heart, CRT helps restore coordination between the ventricles and improves heart muscle contraction. 

Lastly, it is important to note that this therapy may not be appropriate for those with advanced heart failure and normal electrical conduction in the bottom chambers. One of the most common reasons why CRT may not be recommended in this subpopulation of normal conduction is because it has not shown improvement in long-term survival or reduction in hospitalizations. Researchers continue to evaluate patients in the subgroup of patients with normal conduction that may become candidates for this therapy.  So please speak to your doctor about the risks and benefits before proceeding. 

In summary, Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy can be a beneficial option in managing congestive heart failure by helping to improve cardiac contractility and reducing symptoms associated with the condition. It is important to understand its risks, benefits, indications and limitations when considering whether it is the right option for you or a loved one’s condition. At Virginia Arrhythmia Consultants, we offer CRT treatment with the help of our highly experienced physicians to improve our patients’ quality of life and extend their life expectancy. Contact us today to learn more about CRT and to explore if it might be right for you.