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Electrotherapeutic Management of Patients with Heart Failure

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Heart failure is associated with poor long term survival due to progressive refractory heart dysfunction and sudden cardiac death. Cardiac resynchronization through atrio-biventricular pacing has been introduced to treat patients affected by drug-refractory heart failure with desynchronized ventricular activation, as for complete left bundle branch block. The technique is aimed to overcome interventricular and intraventricular conduction delays leading to ventricular dysynchrony, paradoxical septal wall motion, presystolic mitral regurgitation and reduced diastolic filling times. Short term studies demonstrated that biventricular pacing (and perhaps left ventricular pacing alone) may improve both systolic and diastolic function. Initial studies in patients receiving long term pacing consistently showed significant QRS shortening associated with improvement in symptoms, left ventricular ejection fraction, exercise tolerance, quality of life and New York Heart Association functional class. As far as sudden cardiac death prevention in heart failure is concerned, implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) implantation has been demonstrated to be the most effective therapy in patients with prior cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation or poorly tolerated ventricular tachycardia. Low left ventricular ejection fraction, unsustained ventricular tachycardia and inducibility at electrophysiological study also may identify high risk patients requiring ICD implantation. Further studies are needed to evaluate the effect of cardiac resynchronization on hard end-points, such as survival and long term clinical outcome, and to upgrade risk stratification criteria to be used in selection of candidates for ICD implantation.

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Correspondence to Prof Massimo Santini.

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Santini, M., Ricci, R., Pignalberi, C. et al. Electrotherapeutic Management of Patients with Heart Failure. Am J Cordiovosc Drugs 1, 227–231 (2001).

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  • Left Ventricular Ejection Fraction
  • Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator
  • Biventricular Pace
  • Left Ventricular Lead
  • Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator Implantation