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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Who is a candidate for CRT?

CRT is recommended for heart failure patients that have moderate to severe symptoms or those with arrhythmia and heart chambers that are not beating in unison.

What are the benefits of CRT?

CRT can help alleviate some heart failure symptoms such as shortness of breath. Some studies have also shown that it can decrease hospitalization and morbidity and improve your quality of life.

How does a CRT device work?

The system includes a pacing device, a small pulse generator with a microcircuit computer and a battery, and three wires called leads. The CRT device monitors or senses the heartbeat and sends small electrical signals through the lead to correct the heart rhythm when it detects that the heart is not beating normally. CRT devices synchronize the ventricles to maximize output and reduce heart failure symptoms. A CRT device can speed up a slow heartbeat, slow down fast heartbeats, and treat atrial fibrillation (a rapid and irregular heartbeat).

Does the CRT device work all the time or only when I need it?

Some CRT devices work continuously while others work only when your heart needs pacing. If you have atrial fibrillation, you may need a CRT device made to treat that condition. CRT devices pace all the time in the ventricles to ensure the heart muscle is contracting in sync.

Are there different kinds of CRT devices?

Heart failure therapy devices feature three electrodes, which deliver impulses to three heart chambers to “resynchronize” them. This improves the heart’s pumping function. One kind of CRT device manages the pace of the heart, providing electrical impulses to react appropriately to the body’s needs in various situations. This pacemaker CRT device may also be called a “CRT-P” device. Another kind of CRT device acts as a pacemaker, and can also deliver electroshocks in order to terminate tachycardias like an ICD does. This kind of CRT device with defibrillator ability may also be called a “CRT-D” device.

If you may need magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the future and need a CRT-D device, your doctor may choose to implant a device that is approved for that – also called an MR conditional CRT-D device.

How long will it take to resume my normal activities after getting a CRT device?

Recovery from CRT device surgery doesn’t take long. Your doctor will let you know when it’s safe to resume your normal activities.

Can I exercise with a CRT device?

Yes. After you have recovered from your implantation procedure, you should return to your normal activities including

  • Moderate exercise
  • Work
  • Driving
  • Gardening or yard work
  • Sports (Avoid contact sports)
  • Bathing and showering
  • Normal sexual activity

Can I get an MRI if I have a CRT device?

The large magnetic fields in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) may damage your device or its components, trigger rapid pacing, or deliver inappropriate shocks. Current American Heart Association and device manufacturer guidelines only support MRI for some CRT device patients. MR conditional pacemakers, CRT devices and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICD) approved for use in MRI scanning environments have received FDA approval for use in the U.S. and CE approval in the EU.

Can I travel with a CRT device?

Yes, you can travel. Talk with your doctor about any specific concerns you have and make a plan. You may want to know the name of a hospital or clinic near your destination that could help you, in case you need it. Some people may be concerned about metal detectors in airports, etc. There are many different types of security systems in use today and it is difficult to make any general recommendation. Instead, we recommend that you present your patient ID card to the security personnel, request a patdown and follow their instructions. Whether or not you can go through security machinery, you should have no problem traveling. Airport and other personnel are trained to assist people with all kinds of implantable devices so that they can safely clear security checkpoints.

How long does a CRT device last?

Your CRT device battery life will be monitored by your doctor during office visits and via remote monitoring. When necessary, a new CRT device will be implanted using the same procedure.

Do I have to avoid machinery if I have a CRT device?

Here is a list of the equipment and procedures that you should avoid after having a CRT device implanted:

  • Equipment or other sources that generate strong magnetic fields that can interfere with your CRT device
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)-The large magnetic fields in MRI can negatively affect your device. If you have an MR conditional CRT device, the FDA has determined that it is safe for use in appropriate conditions.
  • Contact sports

Take precautions with the following:

  • Cell phones
    • Keep the phone 6 inches (15 cm) away from your CRT device at all times, even when it is off.
    • Hold the phone against your ear that is on the opposite side of your CRT device
    • Don’t carry your phone in your breast pocket over the CRT device
    • Avoid placing the phone or its antenna over the CRT device
  • Metal detectors
    • Inform security personnel of your CRT device
    • Show your patient ID card
  • Electromagnetic Interference (EMI)
    • Theft detection, anti-theft systems, Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS)
      • Many stores may use theft detection systems at entrances and exits and throughout the store to detect shoplifting. It’s possible that these might interfere with your CRT device. If you feel a theft detection system is affecting your CRT device, leave the area immediately.
  • Electric tools, power tools, welders, and electric melting furnaces
  • Radio/television and radar transmitters and satellite towers. Ham radios and CBs should be safe to use.
  • Power-generating facilities
  • High voltage transmission lines
  • Walkie-talkies and other handheld transceivers including emergency two-way radios used by security, maintenance, or emergency personnel
  • Vehicle ignition systems: Make sure to stay 12 inches (30 cm) away from the ignition system under your car’s hood.
  • Electrical starting systems of gasoline-powered equipment if there is not a protective hood or shroud
  • Procedures
    • External defibrillation: Any implanted device may be damaged by high-energy external defibrillation shock. If you receive an external defibrillation shock, consult your doctor.
    • Diathermy: This procedure generates heat in tissue with electrical currents. Avoid diathermy therapy. It might have heating effects on the CRT device.
    • Electrosurgical procedures, such as cardiac ablation therapy, will require your doctor to turn off your CRT device. Your CRT device will need to be checked by your doctor after the procedure.
    • High dose radiation, X-rays, or nuclear medicine: Your CRT device may be damaged by radiation. Alert the healthcare professional before getting an X-ray or radiation/radio therapy.
    • Lithotripsy: This therapy used to treat kidney stones is not recommended for CRT device patients due to the electrical or mechanical interference it may cause.
  • Changes in your heart condition, medications, or other health conditions may affect your CRT device. Continue to have regular check ups to monitor your health and your CRT device.

Choosing Your CRT Device

Not all CRT devices are alike. Get our educational guide, Choosing Your CRT Device, and learn what functions are key to choosing the best device for your lifestyle.

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LEARN MORE ABOUT ARRHYTHMIA

Get our educational eguide, Understanding Abnormal Heart Rhythms, and learn about the basic heart functions and types of arrhythmia.