Cardiac Resynchronisation Therapy (CRT)

Cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) is now an established therapy for a number of people with heart failure. This involves placing an extra pacemaker lead in the heart in addition to the ones used in normal pacemakers or implantable cardioverter defibrillators. The aim of this is to help the left ventricle, one of the main pumping chambers of the heart, pump better. Although this is not suitable for all people with heart failure, fo those that fulfil certain criteria there is a 80% or more chance of improving symptoms such as breathlessness. Recent data suggests that these devices may also lengthen life span and reduce the chance of hospital admission.

The implantation procedure is very similar to that of normal pacemakers or implantable cardioverter defibrillators  in terms of risk. The only additional risks are that some x-ray dye (contrast) is used but this normally causes no problems. Also in a small number of people it is not possible to get the extra pacemaker lead in because of variations in anatomy. If this is the case there may be alternative methods that can be explored at a later time so it may be that it is still possible to benefit from this therapy.