Cardiac resynchronisation and defibrillators

8th September 2017

Some heart disease patients who are treated with cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) would live longer and have fewer hospital admissions if they also received a defibrillator, according to new research unveiled by Aston University.

The results of the study - Clinical outcomes of Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy with or without defibrillation in non-ischemic cardiomyopathy: impact of left ventricular midwall fibrosis - were published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The study involved 252 patients with cardiomyopathy from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham over a period of up to 14 years. Of the 252 patients, 68 also had heart muscle scarring.  

Professor Francisco Leyva, Professor of Cardiology at Aston Medical School said: “Previous studies have ruled out defibrillators as being beneficial for people undergoing CRT as treatment for cardiomyopathy. However, these studies did not use MRI scans to detect scar tissue within the muscle of the patient’s heart.  

Our study is the first to use MRI scans to determine whether patients with non-ischaemic cardiomyopathy who have a defibrillator fitted do better than those who are given a pacemaker.

“The findings show that the addition of a defibrillator would be very advantageous to patients who also have heart muscle scar tissue in that they will potentially live longer and will be less likely to be admitted to hospital for heart failure or other cardiac problems.”

Robert Hall, Cardiomyopathy Support Nurse commented: “We welcome this research as it confirms the growing importance of the use of MRI scanning to identify scar tissue deposits within the heart muscle of patients with cardiomyopathy, which can be associated with an increased risk of arrhythmias, and the benefit an ICD can have in response to this risk.”