Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) is a method of heart disease treatment that helps moderate irregular heartbeats. Our hearts are designed to beat at a certain rhythm for healthy function. Depending on the pace of the irregularity, it is classified as one of several types:
- Arrhythmia: any irregular heartbeat
- Tachycardia: a heartbeat that is too fast
- Brachycardia: a heartbeat that is too slow
These arrhythmias can occur for a large variety of reasons, making them difficult to diagnose. While some irregular heartbeats are not a cause for concern, others can be symptoms of more serious heart conditions. If you notice abnormal rhythms in your heartbeat, speak with your doctor to see if treatment is necessary.
CRT is used to treat irregular heartbeats with the insertion of a small device called an implantable cardioverter defibrillators, or ICD. The ICD emits a constant electrical rhythm that helps keep the heart beating at a regular pace. This can help the heart in several ways:
- More stable rhythm and blood flow
- Increased heart efficiency
- More energy/less shortness of breath
Am I Candidate?
While the benefits of CRT treatments can be significant, they may not be right for everyone. The best candidates for an ICD will have moderate to severe symptoms, and will have not responded well to medicinal therapies.
Patients with only mild symptoms or certain types of heart failure may not be good candidates. CRT is considered a last resort therapy for many patients, as its use involves the permanent reliance on an electronic device. In addition, if the arrhythmia is caused by other conditions, such as electrolyte imbalances or drug toxicities, an ICD may be an ineffective treatment option.