Heart Failure and Biventricular Pacemakers
Biventricular Pacemaker Introduction
In the normal heart, the heart's lower chambers (ventricles) pump at the same time and in sync with the heart's upper chambers (atria). When a person has heart failure, often the right and left ventricles do not pump together. When the heart's contractions become out of sync, the left ventricle is not able to pump enough blood to the body. This eventually leads to an increase in heart failure symptoms, such as shortness of breath, dry cough, swelling in the ankles or legs, weight gain, increased urination, fatigue, or rapid or irregular heartbeat.
Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), also called biventricular pacing, uses a special kind of pacemaker, called a biventricular pacemaker, designed to treat the delay in heart ventricle contractions. It keeps the right and left ventricles pumping together by sending small electrical impulses through the leads. This therapy has been shown to improve the symptoms of heart failure and the person's overall quality of life.
What Is a Biventricular Pacemaker?
Leads are implanted through a vein into the right ventricle and into the coronary sinus vein to pace or regulate the left ventricle. Usually (but not always), a lead is also implanted into the right atrium. This helps the heart beat in a more balanced way.
Traditional pacemakers are used to treat slow heart rhythms. Pacemakers regulate the right atrium and right ventricle to maintain a good heart rate and keep the atrium and ventricle working together. This is called AV synchrony. Biventricular pacemakers add a third lead to help the left ventricle contract at the same time as the right ventricle.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/11/2014
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