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    Device May Reduce Deaths From Heart Failure

    Cardiac Resynchronization Device Lengthens Survival, Says Study
    By
    WebMD Health News

    April 13, 2005 -- Cardiac resynchronization may help some (but not all) heart failure patients live longer.

    The news is reported by John Cleland, MD, and colleagues in The New England Journal of Medicine. They saw fewer deaths and bigger improvements in symptoms and quality of life in certain heart failure patients who got cardiac resynchronization plus standard medication, compared with those who just got the medications.

    "The implantation of a cardiac resynchronization device should routinely be considered in such patients," writes Cleland, who works in the cardiology department of England's Castle Hill Hospital.

    Who Got Tested

    Because the findings focus on a specific type of heart failure, they don't necessarily apply to other heart failure cases.

    Up to a third of heart failure patients have abnormal timing in the pumping action between the lower chambers of the heart. That makes it harder for the heart to pump blood effectively, which can worsen heart failure symptoms.

    The researchers demonstrated that resynchronizing the lower chambers' pumping action can improve survival in patients with severe heart failure.

    There were 813 participants. All had severe heart failure; their average age was about 66.

    All patients got routine medical care for their condition. Half of the group also had a cardiac resynchronization device implanted in their heart. The device stimulated the heart's lower chambers to stay in synch.

    Fewer Deaths With Cardiac Resynchronization

    The patients were followed for 2.5 years, on average. During that time, there were 82 deaths in the cardiac resynchronization group (20%) and 120 in the group that didn't get cardiac resynchronization (30%).

    That included deaths of any cause, but heart trouble was the most common cause of death (83% for all of the patients who died). Death due to worsening of heart failure accounted for 40% of deaths in the cardiac resynchronization group and 47% of the comparison group.

    Sudden death was seen in 35% of those who got cardiac resynchronization and 32% of those who didn't.

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