Dual-chamber pacemaker helps heart failure

Published: March, 2011

A heart attack, high blood pressure, and other insults can reshape the heart in ways that derail the "beat now" signals that are vital to a healthy heartbeat. The two lower chambers, the right ventricle and left ventricle, should contract and relax together. In many people with heart failure, though, they don't. This loss of synchronized squeezing costs the heart some of its pumping power.

A biventricular pacemaker can fix this problem. It sends carefully timed signals that make the right and left ventricle contract and relax in unison. This is called cardiac resynchronization therapy. Biventricular pacemakers were initially approved for people with severe heart failure. Greater experience with them will almost certainly broaden the population of folks who could benefit from one.

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