WHAT IS A CARDIAC RESYNCHRONIZATION THERAPY PACEMAKER (CRT-P)?
A pacemaker is an implantable, battery-powered minicomputer that sends electrical pulses to your heart whenever it detects a slow heartbeat or no heartbeat at all. When it senses a slow heartbeat or lack of heartbeat, it sends electrical impulses to the heart to restore a normal rhythm.
Cardiac resynchronization therapy pacemakers, or CRT-Ps, treat heart failure by sending electrical impulses to resynchronize the heart’s four chambers, improving the heart’s ability to pump blood to the body effectively and efficiently.
HOW A PACEMAKER WORKS
Most pacemakers have two components: a pulse generator (sometimes called a device or can) and pacemaker leads. In addition to these two components, pacemaker treatment can include an external programmer (computer) that communicates with, programs or adjusts the settings of the pulse generator.
- Pulse generator: About the size of two stacked silver dollars, this device contains a battery and circuitry that sends electrical impulses to the heart, stimulating it to beat at a normal rhythm. It is usually implanted under the skin of the upper chest, or sometimes under the skin of the abdomen.
- Pacemaker leads: Leads are thin, flexible insulated wires that run from the pulse generator to the heart. A lead detects your heart’s rhythm and sends this information to the pulse generator. A traditional pacemaker has one or two leads that are placed into the right side of your heart. A CRT-P has an additional lead placed on the left side of the heart to make the left ventricle beat at the same time as the right.
- Pacemaker programmer: A programmer is a computer designed to communicate with your pulse generator. The programmer allows your doctor to adjust your therapy to meet your particular needs. He or she downloads the information stored on your pacemaker and may use it to change your pacemaker’s settings, if needed.
Some pacemakers have the ability to communicate wirelessly with your hospital or clinic, sending information through remote monitoring.