Victor Dugue

Victor Dugue enjoys playing music. He'd never spent a night in a hospital before his heart attack. NYM's doctors performed surgery and helped him make changes in his life. He was back to playing the organ in his church within weeks.

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Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy


Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a condition in which the pumping mechanism of the heart becomes less efficient. The heart is no longer able to pump enough blood to supply the body with sufficient nutrients and oxygen.

Although CHF is largely preventable, once the disease develops, it is progressive. Individuals living with the disease suffer cardiac arrest six to nine times as often as the general population.

Usually, a combination of heart medications is used to treat CHF. However, studies have shown that some patients with congestive heart failure may also benefit from a combination of drug and device therapy.

In about 30 percent of patients with CHF secondary to weakening of the heart muscle, an abnormality in the heart causes its two lower chambers to stop beating simultaneously, making the heart even less efficient. This abnormality is known as ventricular dyssynchrony. Ventricular dyssynchrony can lead to more shortness of breath, problems with exercising and a higher risk of sudden cardiac death in patients with CHF.

Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy

Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), is designed to correct ventricular dyssynchrony. Numerous studies have shown that this device can decrease the risk of mortality from sudden cardiac death and improves heart function and quality of life in patients with moderate to severe heart failure.

CRT improves the symptoms of heart failure in about 50 percent of patients who have been treated extensively with medications but still have severe or moderately severe heart failure symptoms. It's the most important advance in the treatment of heart failure for appropriate patients since the introduction of beta-blockers.

Like a pacemaker, a cardiac resynchronization device sends tiny electrical pulses via leads (soft insulated wires) to the lower chambers of the heart to synchronize the contractions of the ventricles.

Two types of heart failure devices are available to coordinate the heart's pumping action, improve blood flow and speed up a heart that is beating too slowly -- a CRT pacemaker and a pacemaker with defibrillation therapy. The latter also detects a heart rhythm that is dangerously fast.

During the procedure to install the device, small incisions are made in the chest and the leads and device are inserted. Patients are given a local anesthetic and the patient is usually discharged from the Hospital within 24 hours. It is recommended that patients with the device continue taking medication as determined by their physicians.

CRT can reduce a number of symptoms of heart failure, helping patients to resume many daily activities and improve their quality of life.

The New York Heart Association has a classification system that helps health care professionals determine the severity of a person's heart failure and helps to guide the physician to a proper course of treatment. The best way to learn your classification and to discuss whether CRT is an option for you is to talk to your doctor.

Learn more about pacemakers and/or defibrillation therapy.

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