Pace Maker Can Pump Life Back Into A Failing Heart

Exhaustion, shortness of breath and chest pressure are all symptoms of heart failure. Five-million people in the U.S. have it, and thousands more are diagnosed each year. Until recently, your only treatment options for severe cases were extensive medications or a heart transplant. Now, doctors at Mayo Clinic are using a new type of pace maker that can help pump life back into a failing heart.

A team of doctors at Mayo Clinic is implanting a new type of pacemaker. Standard pacemakers don't work for heart failure patients because they only stimulate one chamber or ventricle of the heart to pump. The new device synchronizes both ventricles to pump together. The device looks like a standard pacemaker and is implanted in a similar way. One electrical lead attached to the right ventricle and another on the upper chamber, or atrium. The difference is the new pacemaker has a third lead placed on the left ventricle. When it's turned on, the failing heart synchronizes and pumps more efficiently.

Doctors can use the new pacemakers in two ways: as a permanent implant or they may be of benefit until a heart transplant becomes available for patients with severe disease. Not all heart failure patients will benefit from the device, but those who do can enjoy dramatic improvements in their quality of life.

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