Cardiac Resynchronization (CRT)
Advanced Treatments to Improve Symptoms of Heart Failure
Patients with congestive heart failure — a condition where the heart is too weak to pump enough blood — may find relief with cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT).
Also called biventricular pacing, CRT improves the heart’s pumping action, increases blood flow and relieves symptoms such as shortness of breath or swelling in the lower legs. It can also help prevent heart failure-related complications that often require hospitalization.
CRT uses a small, battery-powered device, called a biventricular pacemaker that is implanted just under the skin of the upper chest. It has wires, called leads, which are placed in both lower chambers of the heart, called ventricles. The wires produce electrical pulses that stimulate the heart muscles to contract, or tighten, and pump blood.
Some CRT devices have a built-in defibrillator, called an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD). This function detects dangerously fast heartbeats and emits an electric pulse to restore a normal rhythm.
Hackensack Meridian Health offers the latest advancements in cardiac resynchronization therapy at two academic medical centers in New Jersey. Our integrated network brings coordinated, state-of-the-art care to community hospitals throughout the state. With a full spectrum of heart care services, we offer everything heart patients need, close to home.
Personalized Expertise from Experts in Heart Care
Our heart care specialists provide complete care to improve quality of life for people with heart failure and help them lead a more active lifestyle. We offer personalized attention to ensure cardiac resynchronization therapy devices are customized to each patient, offering them the best possible results.
Who Is a Candidate for Cardiac Resynchronization?
The cardiologist may recommend CRT if lifestyle changes and medicine haven’t improved symptoms. This treatment is an option for people with moderate or severe heart failure whose ventricles do not contract in unison.
What to Expect During Cardiac Resynchronization
Cardiac resynchronization device implantation is a minor surgery, performed by an electrophysiologist in a special electrophysiology lab while the patient is awake. Patients receive medicine to control pain and offer comfort.
Using X-ray-guided technology, the electrophysiologist inserts the leads into a vein in the chest placing one end of the lead in the heart. The leads are tested to make sure they are in the correct position before connecting them to the device that is placed just under the skin below the collarbone.
The procedure itself takes a few hours, and most people stay in the hospital a day after the surgery to make sure the device is programmed correctly. Patients need to limit some activities for a few weeks after the surgery, such as lifting things or vigorous physical exercise. Some people are referred to a cardiac rehabilitation program to gain strength.
Having an implanted device requires lifelong care and maintenance. The care team will provide specific guidelines for recovery and living with a CRT device.