Implanted devices intended to optimize the cardiac function of patients with heart failure have provided new insights into which patients might be at higher risk of dying suddenly from their disease, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center.
Besides maintaining optimal electrical stimulation to the heart, these CRT-D (cardiac resynchronization therapy with defibrillation) devices are giving cardiologists a new view of subtle changes in a key measurement of heart health -- heart rate variability. Patients with little variability -- whose hearts are unable to appropriately react to external stimuli by regulating their beating action -- are known to be at higher risk of suffering a heart attack. The new insight from CRT-D devices is possible because they record detailed data on heart function 24 hours a day.
These new findings are important for two reasons, the researchers said. First, the collected information appears to more accurately identify high risk patients who would benefit from early and aggressive therapy. Secondly, the devices provide cardiologists with objective information about the health status of their patients, information that can be frustratingly difficult to obtain in a typical clinical setting in this medically diverse group of patients, the researchers said.
Richard Merritt | EurekAlert!
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