CRT May Make Heart Patients 'Sharper'

Article excerpt

DENVER -- Cardiac resynchronization therapy not only reduces mortality and improves quality of life in heart failure patients, it also appears to enhance their cognitive function to a clinically meaningful degree, Neha K. Dixit reported at the annual meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society.

She presented a 20-patient pilot study that documented significant improvements, specifically in the domains of attention and information processing 3 months following implantation of a biventricular pacemaker for cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). Both domains are part of what psychologists call executive function.

"We saw differences in specific tasks that require vigilance and attention and information processing speed. These are differences of a degree that patients and their families would notice," she said in an interview.

Study participants underwent a 40-minute battery of brief neurocognitive tests and measures of psychosocial function 24 hours prior to and again 3 months after device implantation.

Mean scores on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-3rd Edition digit span test--a measure of attention--increased from a mean of 55. …