Statistics indicate that more than 6.5 million1 Americans are living with heart failure, which can be a little confusing. If their hearts are failing, how can they still be alive? The fact is that heart failure doesn’t mean your heart stops beating, but that it isn’t pumping blood the way it needs to in order to keep your body healthy.
Some common indicators of heart failure include swelling in your legs and feet, weight gain, coughing or wheezing, lack of energy and trouble focusing mentally.
What Causes Heart Failure?
The main culprit of heart failure is coronary artery disease (CAD). This occurs over time as the flow of blood in your arteries becomes hindered by plaque buildup. Other possible contributors include high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm, diabetes, thyroid problems or heart defects.
Treatments for Heart Failure
Your doctor may have a wide range of recommendations for you if you’re dealing with heart failure, including lifestyle changes or medication. In some cases, an implanted cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device is the best solution.
Changing Your Heart Rate
There are different ways CRT devices can adjust your heart rate to meet your body’s demands at the time. Some devices have sensors to adjust with your movements (accelerometers); changing in your breathing (minute ventilation); and some can now adjust to the signals that indicate acute mental stress (closed-loop stimulation, or CLS). CLS is an algorithm that measures changes in cardiac contractility, which is the heart’s natural way for controlling stroke volume. Basically, CLS will help your heart to go faster when it should go faster or slower when it should go slower. So if you are excited at seeing your grandchildren or when your favorite sports team scores a win, a CLS-equipped device will increase your heart rate just as a healthy heart would on its own. On the flipside, it will slow your heart during sleep
A device requires no special leads for CLS to work. It’s essentially an algorithm that helps the device determine the appropriate heart rate for a specific situation. When there are variations in a patient caused by stress or emotion, CLS will translate those changes and automatically increase the heart rate. Thus, the proper heart rate for any situation will be attained on a beat-to-beat basis, resulting in physiologic rate adaptation in the patient and better health overall.