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 (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.
With cardiac resynchronization therapy (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.