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A Boost for the Heart

Electrical device helps heart failure patients

TUESDAY, Nov. 11, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- An implantable electrical device that can strengthen the pumping power of the heart may a boost for people with heart failure.

The good news was presented Nov. 11 at the American Heart Association's annual conference in Orlando, Fla.

The device, called the Optimizer II, senses when a heartbeat has started and sends an electrical signal to strengthen the heart's contraction.

The small study included 23 European residents, average age 62, with moderately severe heart failure who had a heart ejection fraction of less than 35 percent. Ejection fraction is the percentage of blood the heart expels during contraction. A normal ejection fraction is 60 percent.

The study participants also had poor exercise tolerance. They could only walk short distances before they became fatigued.

After being implanted, the device was activated three hours a day for eight weeks. At the end of the follow-up period, the patients' ejection fraction increased from an average of 22 percent to 28 percent.

The average distance the patients could walk increased from 411 meters to 465 meters (1,348 feet to 1,526 feet), and the patients reported a better quality of life.

A larger trial of the Optimizer II is being planned.

Heart failure generally results from a weakening of the heart muscle, which results in the heart's inability to pump enough blood to supply the body's needs. Heart disease can be inherited or caused by heart attack and high blood pressure. Often, the cause is unknown.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about heart failure.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Nov. 11, 2003
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