Role of devices in heart failure management
All patients need optimal pharmacological therapy and lifestyle modifications. But in a small subset, there is a definite role for devices. Ventricular tachycardia in a scar of old myocardial infarction may necessitate the implantation of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Hypotensive ventricular tachycardia in heart failure is an important cause for sudden cardiac death (SCD) as it can degenerate into ventricular fibrillation in a short time. Those who have survived a SCD are those at a higher risk of recurrence and benefit maximum with an ICD implantation. ICD improves the life expectancy by 6 years in these high risk individuals.
Intraventricular dyssynchrony in the presence of severe left ventricular dysfunction is an important indication for cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). Delay between the contractions of the septum and the lateral left ventricular wall causes reduced left ventricular stroke volume. The important surrogate of ventricular dyssynchrony is an increased QRS duration. In CRT, septum and lateral left ventricular wall contracts simultaneously producing improvement in the left ventricular stroke volume. This is achieved by pacing the lateral wall of the left ventricle through a coronary vein along with right ventricular endocardial pacing. CRT improves the symptomatic status and survival of heart failure patients with left ventricular dyssynchrony. But still there is a 30% non-responder rate of patients who do not respond to CRT.