Heart failure pacemaker could help less severe cases too

Heart failure pacemaker could help less severe cases too

Patients with milder forms of heart failure may also benefit from having a pacemaker inserted, not only those with severe heart failure, researchers from the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, reported in The European Heart Journal.

The medical team explained that QRS prolongation - a change in the ECG wave - is linked to a higher risk of death from heart failure. They found that not only serious cases of heart failure, but also patients with milder forms, might be helped if they had a pacemaker.

Heart failure can affect people in several different ways; the disease takes many different forms. It is one of the most common reasons people in the West are admitted to the hospital, even after taking into account recent reports which have shown that hospitalization rates for heart failure patients in the USA have dropped considerably. A significant percentage of patients who die prematurely suffer from heart failure, the authors explained as background information.

Principal investigator docent Lars Lund and team gathered data from the Swedish Heart Failure Registry and identified these two types of heart failure. They found that a specific change in the ECG wave is linked to a higher death rate among heart failure patients. The anomaly, known as QRS prolongation, points towards a problem in how the left and right sides of the heart cooperate.

Doctors can treat the poor cooperation between the two sides of the heart, as indicated by the QRS prolongation reading, by inserting a heart failure pacemaker. This is an advanced type of pacemaker which emits signals to both the right and left sides of the heart.

Doctors only use these advanced pacemakers in heart failure patients with the most severe symptoms. The authors say that their study findings suggest that those with less severe forms of this type of heart failure could also have such a pacemaker inserted.

Lars Lund said:

"This advanced pacemaker has not yet been tried on heart failure caused by a reduced ability of the heart muscles to relax. However, our results indicate that it could be valuable for this type of heart failure too, and this possibility is something that we must now go on to explore."

What is heart failure?

Heart failure is not the same as a heart attack - a mistake many lay people make. Heart failure is a serious condition in which the heart cannot pump blood around the body properly or efficiently. The person's right or left side may be affected; sometimes both sides of the body are affected.

Heart failure symptoms usually depend on which side of the body is affected and how severe the condition is.

The most common symptom of heart failure is fatigue. If the body is not getting enough blood pumped from the heart to muscles and organs, the first consequence is a sensation of tiredness. As vital muscles receive less blood, it is diverted from less essential organs and tissues, such as the muscles in the limbs, and focuses on making sure the brain and the heart are adequately supplied. Tired legs is a common symptom of heart failure patients.

Heart failure symptoms if the left side of the body is affected may include dyspnea (breathlessness), especially when the person is either active or lying down. Patients often complain that during the night they need to sit up in bed, or desperately have to get some fresh air. There may also be a cough with frothy spit.

Heart failure symptoms if the right side is affected may include swollen ankles and legs, enlarged liver, and enlarged stomach.

What is the difference between heart failure and heart attack?

  • Heat attack - heart muscle dies because of a blockage (occlusion) of a coronary artery. The heart muscle dies because not enough blood is getting to it and it is starved of oxygen. Not to be confused with a cardiac arrest, which occurs when the heart stops.
  • Heart failure - the heart muscle is unable to pump blood around the body properly/effectively. It is not a heart attack.

Congestive heart failure (CHF) - systolic, diastolic, left side, right side, & symptoms (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Cardiology