SUNDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Canadian researchers report that an implantable device called a resynchronization therapy-defibrillator helps keep the left side of the heart pumping properly, extending the life of heart failure patients.
Cardiac-resynchronization therapy, or CRT-D, also reduces heart failure symptoms, such as edema (swelling) and shortness of breath, as well as hospitalizations for some patients with moderate to severe heart failure, the scientists added.
"The whole idea of the therapy is to try to resynchronize the heart," said lead researcher Dr. Anthony S.L. Tang, from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
It improves the heart's ability to contract and pump blood throughout the body, he explained.
This study demonstrates that, in addition to symptom relief, the CRT-D extends life and keeps heart failure patients out of the hospital, Tang noted.
Tang added that patients will continue to need medical therapy and an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) in addition to a CRT-D.
"We are saying people who are receiving good medical therapy and are now going to get a defibrillator, please go ahead and also do resynchronization therapy as well," he said. "This is worthwhile, because they will live longer and be more likely to stay out of the hospital."
The report is published in the Nov. 14 online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, to coincide with a scheduled presentation of the findings Sunday at the American Heart Association annual meeting in Chicago.
Tang's team randomly assigned 1,798 patients with mild or moderate heart failure to have a CRT-D plus an ICD implanted or only an ICD implanted.
Over 40 months of follow-up, the researchers found that those who received both devices experienced a 29 percent reduction in their symptoms, compared with patients who did not receive t
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