ORLANDO, Fla. -- A novel kind of pacemaker can substantially boost the pumping power of victims of congestive heart failure, offering an entirely new way of treating perhaps 1 million Americans with bad hearts.
Doctors tested the device on people with especially severe heart failure, all of whom were already receiving standard heart medicines. Two-thirds improved significantly.
"The data are clear and impressive, but what impresses me most is the experiences of individual patients, who have improved to a degree we never would have expected," said Dr. William Abraham of the University of Kentucky, who presented the results Tuesday in Orlando.
Earlier research has suggested that this approach, called cardiac resynchronization therapy, can energize sluggish hearts, but the new work is the first study to test it in a rigorous, scientific way.
Heart failure is the only form of heart disease that is actually on the increase in the United States. This is because it is largely a disease of the elderly, and many of those who once would have died of heart attacks now survive long enough to have this disorder.
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