Resynchronizing Hearts is Focus of Study Involving Sarver Heart Center Doctors

Pila Martinez
Feb. 12, 2001

Note: Feb. 11 -17 is Heart Failure Awareness Week

Two University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center doctors are taking part in a nationwide study that will use implantable devices to treat patients with chronic heart failure.

Heart failure, which affects more than 5 million Americans, is a progressive cardiovascular disorder in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. Those who suffer from it experience shortness of breath, fatigue or weakness.

In a normal heart, the pumping of the four chambers is efficient and synchronized. But with chronic heart failure, the heart becomes enlarged and the heart muscle is weakened. In some cases, the enlarged heart develops an electrical abnormality that makes the pumping action dys-synchronized and inefficient.

Heart failure typically is treated with drug therapy alone. The COMPANION study, funded by the Guidant Corporation, will examine whether a new type of pacemaker can "resynchronize" the contraction of the heart and thereby improve the patients' health.

Patients selected for the study will be randomized to one of three groups: optimal drug therapy; optimal drug therapy plus the pacemaker; or optimal drug therapy combined with a pacemaker that also has a backup defibrillator in case the heart has an irregular rhythm or beats too fast. Both types of pacemaker, which are under study, are surgically implanted.

More than 2,000 patients at 80 medical centers nationwide will participate in the four-year study. The two Sarver Heart Center doctors participating are Doctor Paul Fenster, a cardiologist, and Doctor Peter Ott, a cardiac electrophysiologist.




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