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What is Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 December 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Cardiac resynchronization therapy is a treatment option available for some patients with congestive heart failure. It is designed to improve the synchronization of the heartbeat so that each heartbeat will be stronger and more efficient. This promotes better circulation in the patient's body and can help to address some of the symptoms of congestive heart failure while keeping the patient more comfortable. This treatment method is usually combined with other treatments which are designed to be used together to provide comprehensive medical therapy.

Congestive heart failure is a very common cardiac problem, especially in older patients. Historically, medications and lifestyle changes have been used to manage congestive heart failure. Cardiac resynchronization therapy is used in addition to these treatments to manage the patient's heartbeat, as commonly patients with this condition have an arrhythmia which makes their hearts beat less efficiently.

The lack of efficiency in the heartbeat makes individual heartbeats less strong. The blood does not circulate as effectively, and patients can experience discomfort as a result of poor tissue oxygenation. Patients may become short of breath, have difficulty exercising, and experience numbness in their fingers and toes. Cardiac resynchronization therapy is designed to combat these problems by making the heartbeat stronger.

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Patients who are candidates for cardiac resynchronization therapy will be placed under local anesthesia so that a device known as a biventricular pacemaker can be inserted. The device has three electrical leads which are used to stimulate the heart, regulate the heartbeat, and synchronize the ventricles so that the heart is more efficient. It is designed to be in place permanently. In some patients, a device which also acts as an implantable defibrillator may be used.

Once the device is placed, the patient will require periodic checkups to confirm that it is working properly. The biventricular pacemaker should also be noted on the patient's chart and patients may want to make a point of mentioning that they use a pacemaker to new medical care providers.

Cardiac resynchronization therapy is not effective on its own. It needs to be combined with medical therapy, supervised by a cardiologist who will help the patient develop a treatment plan which will address the patient's specific needs and circumstances. Medical therapy can include diet and exercise recommendations as well as prescription medications. Since congestive heart failure can occur as a comorbidity with other medical issues, it is also important that patients see their physicians regularly to identify and manage other medical conditions.

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