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New high-tech heart mapping could throw a lifeline to thousands of desperately ill heart failure patients.
Thanks to a pioneering scanning technique, surgeons can now position a special kind of pacemaker with extreme precision – to help regulate the beating heart.
Experts - Approach - Subject - Trial - Patients
Experts believe the approach, the subject of a two-year international trial, could help more patients live longer, healthier lives.
‘This could radically improve the lives of people with heart failure,’ says Aldo Rinaldi, consultant cardiologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London.
Heart - Failure - Term - Range - Problems
Heart failure is a broad term for a wide range of problems that mean the heart isn’t able to pump blood properly. It occurs if the heart has become too weak or stiff.
Symptoms include tiredness, breathlessness and leg swelling.
Patients - Heart - Failure - Problems - Right
About a third of patients with heart failure have problems that mean the right and left side of the heart don’t beat in unison. It is these patients who can be helped by the special pacemaker.
All pacemakers consist of a small matchbook-size battery pack, which is implanted under the collarbone and attached to leads that are placed into the heart muscle. The leads monitor any abnormalities in the heartbeat and emit tiny pulses of electricity to correct rhythm problems when necessary.
Pacemakers - Leads - Problems - Upper - Chambers
Pacemakers with two leads are used for problems in which the upper and lower chambers in one side of the heart are affected, with one lead placed in each chamber.
The new procedure uses a device with three leads, which are inserted into the upper and lower right side of the heart, and the lower left, allowing the two sides to be resynchronised.
Device - Place - Lead - Heart - Tissue
However, putting the device in place is tricky. If the third lead is accidentally put on scarred heart tissue, the electrical pulses are less effective. This, say experts, is why roughly 30 per cent of patients don’t improve after...
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