CRT Device FAQs
How CRTs Work
What types of CRT devices are there?
There are two types of CRT devices. One is a special kind of pacemaker. It’s called a cardiac resynchronization therapy pacemaker (CRT-P) or “biventricular pacemaker.” The other is the same device, but it also includes a built-in implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). This type is called a cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator (CRT-D).
What does a CRT-P device do?
While functioning like a normal pacemaker to treat slow heart rhythms, a CRT-P device also delivers small electrical impulses to the left and right ventricles to help them contract at the same time. This will help your heart pump more efficiently.
What does a CRT-D device do?
A CRT-D device is a special device for heart failure patients who are also at high risk for sudden cardiac death. While functioning like a normal pacemaker to treat slow heart rhythms, a CRT-D device also delivers small electrical impulses to the left and right ventricles to help them contract at the same time. This will help your heart pump more efficiently.
A CRT-D device also treats dangerously fast heart rhythms (arrhythmias) that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. If the device senses heartbeats that are dangerously fast, it delivers a shock to the heart. This shock (defibrillation) stops the abnormal rhythm. Without this life-saving therapy, the dangerously rapid rhythm could lead to death in just minutes.
What are the benefits of a CRT device?
Heart failure is a chronic, progressive disease. Early use of CRT therapy can help keep you alive longer and out of the hospital for heart failure. If you have been experiencing symptoms, a CRT device has the ability to improve your health—and may improve your life. A CRT device does not cure heart failure. But many people who receive a CRT device notice that they feel better and experience relief from their symptoms, such as shortness of breath. They also have more energy to participate in everyday activities.
How does a doctor monitor your heart when you have a CRT device?
Your doctor will want to check your CRT device and overall health on a regular basis. Your follow-up plan will include visits to your doctor’s office. It’s important to attend these visits, even if you are feeling well. In the clinic, your doctor or nurse will use the programmer to ensure your CRT device is working properly to best treat your heart condition. With today’s innovative technology, you may not have to visit your doctor’s office as often as patients did in the past. If you receive a CRT device from Boston Scientific, you may be able to use an automatic, in-home monitoring system called LATITUDE.
This system allows your doctor to check certain types of CRT devices remotely so you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home. Your doctor can get important data from your CRT device—such as whether it delivered high-energy therapy or how much energy is left in the battery. If your CRT device delivered a therapy, its computer memory will store information about what your heart was doing before, during and after the arrhythmia. You can even measure your weight and blood pressure at home and have the measurements sent automatically to your doctor. The system can check your CRT device as often as every day and notify your doctor if necessary. For example, it can notify your doctor if the battery power is low. This is useful information for your doctor in making your treatment decisions.
After Your Procedure
What is recovery like?
Full recovery from surgery can take from several days to a few months. While you recover, your doctor may ask you to avoid strenuous activity, especially lifting and other activities that use your upper body. Doing so helps ensure that the leads have time to firmly attach to your heart tissue.
How do most people feel emotionally after receiving a CRT device?
Having a CRT device can be a major turning point in your life. Afterward, you may feel sad or worried. It’s an event that may change your thoughts and feelings about your health. Some people may feel vulnerable at first because they depend on an implanted device. As you return to daily life, your level of confidence and comfort with the CRT device will likely grow and many people feel much better than they did before. (Individual results may vary.)
It’s also important to remember that everyone is different about how private they are. How much you share with others is up to you. Sometimes it’s perfectly healthy not to talk about your heart condition. But if you are anxious, scared or depressed, you might want to talk to a therapist or find a support group.
About Shock Therapy
What does CRT therapy feel like?
The sensation varies from person to person and depends on the type of therapy your device delivers:
When a CRT-D device shocks the heart in order to slow down a fast heartbeat, it uses higher energy. This gives a feeling that some people describe as a “kick in the chest.” Some patients are unconscious when the shock is delivered and don’t remember the shock at all. The shock comes quickly and lasts only a second.
What happens if someone is touching me when I receive an electric shock?
If you receive a shock while in contact with another individual, they may feel a harmless tingling sensation that lasts for an instant.
Living with a CRT Device
When will I get my permanent Medical Device ID card?
Your permanent Medical Device Identification Card will be mailed to you a few weeks after your implant. This wallet-sized card helps identify you as a patient with an implanted Boston Scientific medical device. If you do not receive your permanent card within eight weeks, call 1-866-484-3268 to order a card.
What if I move or change doctors?
If your name or address changes, or if you get a new heart doctor, let us know so we can update our records. You can notify us by calling 1-866-484-3268.
Can I travel with a CRT device?
Patients with a CRT device can feel confident and safe when traveling. The Medical Device ID card that you receive with your device helps alert medical and security personnel that you have an implanted CRT device. It’s important to carry your card when traveling because the device contains metal parts that may set off airport security metal detector alarms. Airport security wands could also temporarily affect the device. Security personnel should perform a hand search instead of using a handheld wand. If a wand must be used, you can ask security personnel to do the search quickly and not to hold the wand over the device.
Can I drive with a CRT device?
Whether you are able to drive once you have a CRT device will depend on your specific symptoms (like passing out prior to the implant) and the driving laws where you live. Generally, having a CRT device does not prohibit you from driving, although you may be asked to wait to drive during the early stage of recovery. In some cases, restrictions are necessary. That’s because a few seconds of unconsciousness could be dangerous to both you and others. Your doctor or nurse will discuss any restrictions with you.
Will a CRT device affect sexual activity?
For most people with a CRT device, sexual intimacy is not a medical risk. This is because the natural heart rate increase that occurs during sex is the same as the heart rate increase when you exercise. Your doctor may perform exercise tests to become familiar with how your heart rate increases. This will help him or her program the CRT device settings.
Is there a risk of interference from household appliances with the CRT device?
Under normal use, it is safe for someone with a CRT device to use most household items. This includes hair dryers, heating pads, electric razors, remote controls, vacuums, microwaves, TVs, radios, computers, lawn mowers, and many other appliances and tools. But people with a CRT device do need to be aware that it can be affected by electromagnetic interference (EMI) and certain tools and household items should be used with caution or avoided. Your doctor can answer questions about a specific appliance, tool or piece of equipment. You can also contact Boston Scientific Patient Services at (866) 484-3268 or visit our Using Household Appliances and Tools page for more information.
Do you have information I can share with my family about my CRT device?
You can download and print information about your CRT device to share with your family by selecting your implanted device model on the resources page. These info sheets include answers to commonly asked questions about CRT devices and a summary about your device—including a photograph and dimensions. You may also want to share your CRT-D Patient Manual or CRT-P Patient Manual with them. If you would like to request a new manual, call Boston Scientific Patient Services at (866) 484-3268.
Resources and Support
We're Here to Help
Our patient support team is happy to help answer all your questions about living with your device.
Hours: M-F 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Central