Donate |

Many heart failure patients don't benefit from pacemakers

Consumer Reports News: June 17, 2011 12:53 PM

Nearly 40 percent of heart-failure patients who use pacemakers get little or no benefit from them, according to a study published online this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Pacemakers are battery-powered devices sometimes used in heart-failure patients to get the heart’s lower chambers, or right and left ventricles, beating in sync. But the new study suggests that the criteria currently used to determine who’s a candidate for that treatment, called cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), are too broad.

Current American Heart Association guidelines say that patients with a QRS (the measurement of the activity of the heart's left and right ventricles) of greater than 120 milliseconds should be treated with CRT. But the study found that patients with a QRS between 120 ms and 150 ms—38 percent of the participants—received little to no benefit from CRT. In contrast, the 60 percent of people who had a QRS of 150 or higher did benefit.

Pacemakers are implanted in about 60,000 Americans each year and typically cost about $25,000, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Data for the analysis came from five CRT clinical trials involving a total of 5,813 patients. The study was led by researchers at University Hospital Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

U.S. Dept. of Justice reaches agreement with maker of heart devices on illegal kickbacks
What is atrial fibrillation?
FDA orders medical device review

Evan MacDonald


E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from safety, health, cars, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Health News


and safety with
subscribers and fans

Follow us on:


Cars New Car Price Report
Find out what the dealers don't want you to know! Get dealer pricing information on a new car with the New Car Price Report.

Order Your Report


Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more