Posts Tagged ‘CRT’


Each of the above can be important in diseased heart .The most important component seems to be Inter- ventricular  synchrony .This is closely followed by AV synchrony .In dysfunctional  ventricles Intra-ventricular  synchrony  also becomes important .In  structurally  normal hearts  none seems to be important  (This statement can be debated  )

VVI pacemakers causes  both AV  and Inter-ventricular (VV ) dys-synchrony

DDD pacemaker  may still  induce  Inter-ventricular ( VV ) dys-synchrony  whenever  RV is paced for any reason .This may happen up to 60 % of pace making time in real world.

Some more facts

*Chronic VVI pacing may  induce adverse  remodeling of both atria and may worsen LV dilatation. In contrast isolated chronic organic LBBB is well tolerated and with paradoxical septal motion rarely worsen the LV function.

**Please note the paradoxical septal motion , which is  noted in  all LBBBs is  same as inter-ventricular  dyssynchrony .

***Inter atrial synchrony is a less discussed issue .It becomes  important in diseased atria which manifest gross   intra atrial conduction blocks  , atrial inhomogeneity and AF .Onset and offset  of AF has a major impact in the way DDD pacing is going to fire .

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Cadiac resynchrnonisation (CRT) therapy , is  the most famed  as well as  ridiculed treatment modality for refractory failure . It is facing a real tough time for survival now .(At least in class 4 CHF.)

Confident and  authentic data  are emerging  now , that CRT should not be  used  in advanced heart failure .(This is in total contrast with the original concept  ,  when CRT was introduced nearly  a decade ago !  more  of class 3 and 4 were enrolled ) . Bad outcomes are expected in advanced CHF. This is something similar to whipping the tired horse concept  which  found inotropes   to increase the mortality in severe heart failure .

The article in the current issue of circulation  shows  no mercy to CRT  in advanced CHF


So what  is  the answer to the ailing CRT industry ?

Go and catch class 1 and class 2 CHF population* .You will get plenty  , of course  it got ratified by MADIT -CRT trial .

* It is attractively called prevention of cardiac failure

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Atrial fibrillation and CHF are close companions. Either it   precipitates  CHF  or  follows it.In advanced heart failure of any etiology  the incidence of AF can be up to 40% .Medical therapy of AF is fairly effective in patients with normal LV function  .But when associated with refractory cardiac failure  it becomes  too complex to control .

Currently CRT with ICD  is becoming the standard OF care for advanced CHF. The efficacy of CRT is being rigorously being assessed . Even as the controversy  about  the wideness of QRS is being settled , the issue of optimal  timing of CRT has risen  . Now ,  the MADIT-CRT has answered this issue “Earlier it  is better , it can be  indicated even for  class 1 patients”

While MADIT -CRT will increase the number of CRT implants , we  have no clear cut answer for the  efficacy of CRT in patients with AF .( Of course , the MUSTIC and CARE HF sub group analysis suggested AF has no significant impact on CRT efficacy )

atrial fibrillation crt cardiac resynchronisation therapy icd madit crt care chf

Why is AF important in CRT ?

There are two issues that need analysis

  1. A patient who  has chronic AF at the time of CRT
  2. Development of  new onset AF after CRT implantation.

Impact of AF during CRT

  • Inter atrial synchrony is lost. ( Significance not clear . . . makes AF permanent)
  • AV synchrony is lost
  • Rapid AV conduction : May trigger   too much of Bivi pacing if sensed by LV lead

Presence of AF at the time of CRT gives us an opportunity to tackle this issue.

How to tackle  sudden AF induced CRT response ?

There are variety of algorithms available to

  • Ventricular sense response
  • Conducted AF response
  • Atrial tracking recovery

In dual chamber pacing mode switching converts DDD into VVI  .This happens  at the cost of loss of AV synchrony .This may have profound implication in CRT .

Then the big question comes  . What is the use  of  having Intraventricular  and interventricular  synchrony without AV synchrony ?

When nothing works .The best strategy is ( Rather deemed to be best ! )

  • To ablate the  AV node  pace  the atrium and ventricle  (RV & LV)  .

Note : Ablation of AV node and putting a dual chamber pacing can never guarantee a physiological pacing as the atrium continues to fibrillate and AV synchrony is rarely there .

Final message

For CRT is to be successful , there should be maximal Bi-Vi capturing , of course this capture has to optimally timed , and must reverse the three pathological asynchronies , namely intraventricular , Interventricular  and  atrio  ventricular  asynchronies.

It is obvious , presence of AF complicates the issue as it demands  constant monitoring and programming of the device (Of course  now most  of them are automated) . It may   require  knocking down of AV node , which  not only carries a risk of SCD *  ,  it also make these  patients   permanently  dependent   on the RV pacing  . This  adds on ,  another  risk ,  for an  acute complication   if the RV lead fails for some reason.

Reference :

*Sudden death after radiofrequency ablation of the atrioventricular node in patients with atrial fibrillation
Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Volume 40, Issue 1, Pages 105-110

EP experts generally take  too much liberty in adopting this  strategy for the simple reason it solves the nuisance of atrial impulses  interfering with   ventricular  leads  function that result in  inappropriate ventricular capture fusion or ultimately poor BiVi pacing . But it is not an easy decision  atleast for the patient ! This article , emphasises the dangers involved in ablate and pace strategy for uncontrolled AF.

Further reading

  • Fung, J. W H, Yip, G. W K, Yu, C.-M. (2008). Does atrial fibrillation preclude biventricular pacing?. Heart 94: 826-827 [Full Text]
  • Khadjooi, K, Foley, P W, Chalil, S, Anthony, J, Smith, R E A, Frenneaux, M P, Leyva, F (2008). Long-term effects of cardiac resynchronisation therapy in patients with atrial fibrillation. Heart 94: 879-883 [Abstract]
  • Buck, S., Rienstra, M., Maass, A. H., Nieuwland, W., Van Veldhuisen, D. J., Van Gelder, I. C. (2008). Cardiac resynchronization therapy in patients with heart failure and atrial fibrillation: importance of new-onset atrial fibrillation and total atrial conduction time. Europace 10: 558-565 [Abstract] [Full Text]

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  1. Do 64slice MDCT  in all patients who has  a coronary event and follow it up with catheter based CAG.
  2. Use liberally the new biochemical marker ,  serum  B-naturetic peptide (BNP) to diagnose cardiac failure in lieu of basal auscultation.
  3. Advice  cardiac resynchronisation therapy in all patients  who are in class 4 cardiac failure with a wide qrs complex .
  4. As it is may be considered a  crime to administer empirical  heparin, do ventilation perfusion scan in all cases with suspected pulmonary embolism.
  5. Do serial CPK MB and troponin levels in all patients with well  established  STEMI .
  6. Open up all occluded coronary arteries irrespective  of symptoms and muscle viability.
  7. Consider  ablation of pulmonary veins as an  initial strategy in  patients with recurrent idiopathic AF. If it is not feasible  atleast occlude their left atrial appendage with watch man  device.
  8. Never tell  your patients   the  truths  about the  diet , exercise &  lifestyle modification (That can  cure most of the early hypertension) . Instead encourage the  use of  newest ARBs  or even  try direct renin antoagonists   to treat all those patients in  stage 1 hypertension.
  9. Avoid regular heparin in acute coronary syndromes   as  it  is a disgrace to use it  in today’s world. Replace all prescription of heparin with  enoxaparine  or  still better ,  fondaparinux  whenever  possible.
  10. Finally never discharge  a  heftily  insured patient   until  he completes all the  cardiology investigations  that are available in your hospital  .

Coming soon :  10 more ways to  increase cost of cardiology care . . .beyond common man’s reach

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                                          CRT , cardiac resynchronisation therapy  is being  projected  as a revolutionary treatment for cardiac failure , where a failing heart is rewired electrically through multiple leads and make it contract  more effectively.The success rate of CRT was highly variable.The basic question here  is,  there should be a  significant  documentation of desynchronisation  prior to CRT , for resynchronisation to be effective. Further , the sites of  myocardial  stimulation ( Coronary sinus/LV epicardial) , dose of electricity and the sequence of stimulation and the  electrical delay  are very  critical. Achieving this into perfection  is not a simple job and is  real rocket science ! ( If we can achieve 5 % of what  the normal purkinje network do within the LV we can term it a huge success.) Let us hope we catch up with nature . Finally , it is ironical  the sites of LV pacing ,  electrophysiologists  select currently  is infact not selected by them but pre selected by the patients coronary venous anatomy ! .So as on date ,  one can imagine how scientific this treatment could be !

                                         Initially it was adviced for patients with only wide qrs later for even normal qrs patients.When people started using it indiscriminately  insurance companies started to rethink and thus came the   RETHINQ study in NEJM  and brought a full stop to CRT in normal qrs CHF.

How to identify who will benefit from  the costly CRT  ?

It is a million dollar question. So millions of dollars were spent to identify the correct tool to identify the true responders to CRT.Echo cardiography with sophisticated methods tissue doppler, tissue tracking and , 3 D echo ,velocity vector imaging were done .These methods are not only costly but also time consuming and  hugely expertise driven.

Does all this  efforts with  advanced echo techniques worthwhile ?

This simple question was addressed in PROSPECT study in circulation

Click to read the article

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