Harvard Heart Letter

Advanced pacemaker gets the heart in sync

Cardiac resynchronization with a biventricular pacemaker helps reduce heart failure symptoms.

The intricately coordinated timing of the heart's beat ensures that the walls of the two lower chambers (the ventricles) contract at the same time. This two-sided muscular push squeezes out as much blood as possible from the ventricles. In many people with heart failure, though, synchrony gives way to an uncoordinated beat in the ventricles. This reduces the heart's pumping power, forcing the heart to work harder, often with harmful consequences.

Not long ago, little could be done about this. Today, a therapy called cardiac resynchronization therapy (also known as biventricular pacing) can help restore the coordinated contractions of the walls of the ventricles.

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