Biventricular pacemakers are utilized in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) to improve their functional capacity. These pacemakers are more advanced than the typical pacemaker used to treat a slow heartbeat. Biventricular pacemakers allow for cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), which paces the hearts ventricles, or pumping chambers. Many times, patients with CHF do not have all four chambers of the heart working together as they should. With CRT therapy, the four chambers can be optimized to contract at the most desirable time and increase the efficiency of each heartbeat. Getting the right and left heart chambers to contract in synchrony with the other can improve your cardiac function and reduce the symptoms of heart failure.
The generator for the biventricular pacemaker is typically implanted in the left chest through a small incision. The three leads are implanted into the heart, as compared with one or two for a regular pacemaker, and attach to the generator. The entire device can then be programmed and monitored without another incision. One night in the hospital is generally all that is needed for what is often considered "minor" surgery using local anesthetic and sedation. Patients generally return to normal activities quickly.