Cardiac resynchronization therapy, or CRT, is a treatment or procedure to correct serious heart rhythm problems, restore its efficiency and increase blood flow to the heart. It involves implanting a special pacemaker to restore normal heartbeat patterns.
Visit us or Call us to learn more about the condition, including cardiac resynchronization therapy indications or the cardiac resynchronization therapy procedure. We are one of the best heart hospitals in Nagercoil, offering all the necessary information to help you understand the problem. Our heart specialists provide comprehensive guidance and counselling to prevent and help you recover from a heart problem.
What is Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy?
In cardiac resynchronization therapy, a device is implanted in the patient’s chest to help the chambers of the heart contract in a more efficient and organized manner. The device used for this procedure is called a biventricular pacemaker or cardiac resynchronization device. This treatment is mainly used in cases of heart failure when a person’s lower heart chambers refuse to contract in a coordinated way.
Before going in for cardiac resynchronization therapy, we advise patients about the risks involved in the process. Although it isn’t a dangerous or life-threatening procedure, it does come with certain risks, much like any other surgery. Some risk factors to be aware of include infection, bleeding, heart rhythm issues, mechanical problems with the CRT device, the device or the wires moving around too much, and bruising and swelling in the upper chest area location of the CRT device.
You could also be susceptible to other risks if you have a specific medical condition. Therefore, discussing your medical history and concerns with your doctor before the procedure is always wise.
Who Needs Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy
One needs to be aware of the cardiac resynchronization therapy indications to provide proper treatment at the right time. Anyone suffering from abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia could require cardiac resynchronization therapy or some other type of pacemaker. The patients displaying symptoms of moderate to severe heart failure might have to go for cardiac resynchronization therapy, along with the ones whose tests prove that their heart is either enlarged or weak.
The reasons behind a weak heart or arrhythmia could include heart attack, heart failure, age, something that has damaged the patient’s heart, medicines, a hereditary heart problem or something one was born with, or a problem with the heart’s ability to get an electrical signal to the chambers of the heart, such as a bundle branch block.
What is a CRT Device?
A cardiac resynchronization therapy device can either be a pacemaker (CRT-P) or a pacemaker and an ICD (CRT-D). Cardiac resynchronization therapy with a pacemaker entails a device possessing three leads that connect the pacemaker to the right upper chamber of the patient’s heart or right atria and the two lower chambers or ventricles.
Medical professionals usually recommend cardiac resynchronization therapy with a pacemaker and an ICD to those who haven’t just suffered from heart failure but are also at risk of sudden cardiac death. Such a device has the potential to identify dangerous heart rhythms and send a shock of energy that’s much stronger than what a pacemaker can deliver. It’s this shock that helps in resetting the patient’s heartbeat.
What Happens Before Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy
Before you go in for your cardiac resynchronization therapy treatment, your doctor could ask you to undergo a heart MRI or a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE), which can take a few days before the procedure. You will be given an anaesthetic on the day of the treatment so you don’t experience any pain.
Make sure you discuss the medicines you are currently on before the surgery. Inform them about any allergies, any symptoms of infections or colds, anaesthesia-related issues, the prescribed or non-prescribed medicines that you are taking, and any over-the-counter supplements or medicines you have been consuming. Your doctor might ask you to pause taking the blood thinners’ medicines.
Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy: During and After
The procedure of cardiac resynchronization therapy can last between three to five hours. You will be asked to lie down on an X-ray table, after which an IV line will be inserted into your arm or hand, through which you will be given pain medicines, antibiotics, and fluids. The team of medical professionals will keep checking your oxygen levels, blood pressure, and pulse.
The doctor will insert IV lines into the large vein connected to the patient’s heart, after which the CRT wires will be inserted into the vein and fed directly to your heart. The wires are tested using an electric pulse, and if found to be in the accurate position, they will then be attached to the CRT pacemaker. The pacemaker is put through the incision and under the patient’s skin. The incision is then closed using staples and sutures.
Once the procedure is complete, our staff will transfer you to the recovery area, where you might have to remain in the medical facility for about a day or two as the doctor adjusts and checks the settings on your CRT device. Note all the tips and pointers the medical professional provided before returning home.
While you’re home, you can go back to following a regular diet unless instructed otherwise. Limit strenuous activities for at least six weeks, including stretching and lifting. Ensure the dressing is dry and clean unless your doctor gives you the green signal to take the dressing off. Keep checking the incision area to look for any signs of infection. Let your doctor know immediately if you experience redness, bleeding, discharge, swelling, or fever.
How to Live with a Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy Device
Adequate care and attention are necessary while living with a CRT device. Ensure that your doctor keeps checking whether your device is functioning properly. Carry your CRT pacemaker identification card, and ensure all your caregivers know the CRT device. The pacemaker’s battery lasts four to eight years; your doctor will inform you before it runs out. Getting a replacement for this device is not a tricky process.
The doctor will suggest you keep all sorts of electronic devices at least six inches from your CRT pacemaker as they could disrupt its functioning. Maintain a distance between yourself and the devices with strong magnetic fields, including microwave ovens and electrical generators. You can also get your doctor a list of all the devices to avoid. Although metal detectors and X-ray machines are safe in this case, steer clear of devices such as the metal wands used at airport security checks.