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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.

Sources
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Evan MacDonald

   

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