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Many people with heart failure also have a problem with the way their heart beats (arrhythmia). Many patients with a low ejection fraction – when the amount of blood the heart is able to squeeze out is much less than what it normally would be – may benefit from small electric devices implanted in the chest, just under the skin, with wires going to the heart.

These devices can be useful to prevent sudden cardiac death or help the heart beat in a more coordinated manner in select patients.

  • An implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD, is a battery-powered device that keeps track of your heart rate and releases an electric shock if it detects a dangerously fast heart rate, resetting the heart rhythm. 

    Decision Aid: If an ICD is recommended, use this booklet and video for patients with heart failure to learn more about the device and understand your options. 
  • With cardiac resynchronization therapy, or CRT, a small device is implanted just below the collarbone. It sends electric signals to the lower chambers of the heart so that they beat together in a more synchronized way, helping the heart to pump better. Studies show that these devices can help improve quality of life and may prolong survival in properly selected patients.

  • A left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, is a battery-operated, mechanical pump. It is placed in the chest and helps the left ventricle (the main pumping chamber of the heart) pump oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body.

    An LVAD may be an option for people with later stages of heart failure. For example, when:

    • Someone is awaiting a heart transplant. This is sometimes called a “bridge to transplant.”
    • A heart transplant isn’t an option. An LVAD serves as a longer term treatment to prolong their life. This is sometimes called “destination therapy.”

    Many patients say that an LVAD has helped them:

    • Get back to daily routines and activities that they enjoy
    • Breathe easier
    • Sleep better
    • Live longer

     An LVAD does require open heart surgery, so it’s not without risks. It also requires ongoing care.

    Decision Aid: If an LVAD is recommended, use this booklet and watch this video to learn more, ask questions, and understand your options. 

  • Last Edited 03/26/2024