Biventricular Pacemaker (cont.)

Who Is a Candidate for a Biventricular Pacemaker?

Biventricular pacemakers improve the symptoms of heart failure in about 50% of people that have been treated with medications but still have severe or moderately severe heart failure symptoms. Therefore, to be eligible for the biventricular pacemaker, heart failure patients must:

  • Have severe or moderately severe heart failure symptoms.
  • Be taking medications to treat heart failure.
  • Have delayed electrical activation of the heart (Your doctor can usually determine this using ECG.).

In addition, the heart failure patient may or may not need this type of pacemaker to treat slow heart rhythms and may or may not need an internal defibrillator (implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD), which is designed to treat people at risk for sudden cardiac death or cardiac arrests.

My Doctor Recommends Combination ICD and Pacemaker Therapy. Why?

People with heart failure who have poor ejection fractions (measurement that shows how well the heart pumps with each beat) are at risk for fast irregular heart rhythms -- some of which can be life-threatening. Currently, doctors use an ICD to prevent these arrhythmias.

The device works by detecting such a rhythm and shocking the heart back to normal. These devices can combine biventricular pacing with anti-tachycardia (fast heart rate) pacing and internal defibrillators to deliver treatment as needed. Current studies are showing that resynchronization may even lessen the amount of arrhythmia that occurs, decreasing the frequency of ICD firing. These devices are improving heart failure patients' quality of life as well as improving their safety.

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