Device Therapy

Treating Cardiovascular Diseases in Wisconsin and Northern Illinois

Device therapy is also known as biventricular pacing, Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy, or CRT. In heart failure, the contraction of the ventricles or lower chambers of the heart may not be coordinated or synchronous. The heart may beat too slow or too fast or irregular, which can result in an insufficient amount of blood pumping throughout the body. This can cause symptoms of heart failure such shortness of breath, swelling, or fatigue.

Device therapy for heart failure, or CRT, utilizes a special type of pacemaker to coordinator the contraction of the ventricles. The pacemaker sends electrical signals through specialized wires called leads to both ventricles helping them beat in a coordinated fashion and improving blood flow. You should not feel this pacing.

The pacemaker has a generator with a computer chip that can be programmed and a battery that supplies power. CRT devices may have a defibrillator (CRT D) that can deliver shocks for life threatening heart rhythm emergencies. 

Risks and Side Effects of a Device Therapy Procedure

The most common risks to CRT placement may including bleeding or bruising.  You should speak to your health care provider about your risks.

How to Prepare for a Device Therapy Procedure

Patients having CRT placement usually arrive at the hospital the day of the procedure and stay over night. Your health care provider will tell you what your medications and food restriction are prior to the procedure. You may also have instructions to prepare for the procedure by using a special soap to wash your chest and an antibiotic may be recommended to reduce the risk of infection.

What to Expect During a Device Therapy Procedure

You will be taken to a special procedure room in the Electrophysiology Laboratory. This is a surgical room with special equipment. Your family will be able to stay in the waiting room while you have the procedure. 

Most CRT devices are placed using local anesthetic and intravenous medication to help you relax. It is possible you may require general anesthesia and then an Anesthesiologist will be involved with the procedure.

At the start of the procedure your skin is cleansed with an antibiotic soap and will be covered with special sterile towels. Most procedures require an incision to be made under the collar bone and a pocket formed under the skin where the generator is placed. Placing leads are guided through a vein and passed to your heart using xrays as a guide. After placement, the device system will be tested but you will not feel this. The incision will then be closed and a bandage will be applied. After a short observation period you will be taken to your hospital room. 

Recovery after the Device Placement

Discharge usually occurs the day after the procedure. The dressing will be removed before you go home. You will have steri-strips that cover the incision and these will be left in place. They will be removed at your follow-up appointment in one or two weeks after discharge.

There will be temporary restrictions for approximately 2-4 weeks. These include lifting and repetitive motions on the side of the implant. You may shower 48 hours after the procedure, but do not let water beat directly on the incision and avoid extensive time in the shower. Gently pat the area dry with a clean towel. Do not apply any lotions, perfumes, or home remedies to the incision.

Do not swim, tub bathe or drive until instructed by your electrophysiologist. Your doctor will also tell you when you may return to work or any work restrictions. 

Why Choose Aurora for a Device Therapy Procedure

Aurora Health Care is a national leader in comprehensive cardiovascular services. Aurora offers the latest in technology and procedures, offering coordinated and individualized care for heart failure patients. Aurora Health Care has physicians called Electro -physiologists that place CRT devices and are part of a specialized team to assist with heart failure care.

Aurora doctors are conveniently located throughout eastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois. Find a doctor or vascular specialist near you. To get a second opinion or if you need assistance finding a provider, please call 888-649-6892.