Analyzing Preventive CRT in the Elderly

Published studies have shown that the prevalence of congestive heart failure (CHF) increases as people age, rising from 2% to 3% in the total population to 10% to 20% after patients reach age 75. When compared with younger patients, CHF in the elderly has been associated with higher mortality rates. “Even when medical management is optimized, elderly patients with CHF still require frequent healthcare utilization, including those with the early stages of disease,” says David T. Huang, MD. “While medical therapy can sometimes help, there are concerns about disease recurrence.” Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) can be used in conjunction with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), an approach that has been shown to reduce hospitalizations and mortality relative to CHF. “CRT and ICDs have become important components for qualified patients with class III or IV heart failure,” adds Dr. Huang. “CRT has been used in patients of many age ranges in the past, but mostly in the most severe late-stage cases. Symptoms can improve with this therapy, but questions have been raised about whether or not CRT should be used in earlier stages of CHF in order to better prevent symptoms.” When patients with CHF are properly selected, age should not be used as a sole discriminator to exclude device therapy. —David T. Huang, MD The Effect of Age on CRT Outcomes The Multicenter Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial with CRT (MADIT-CRT) recently found that CRT utilizing defibrillators (CRT-D) was associated with a 34% reduction in the risk of heart failure or death when compared with ICD-only therapy in asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic patients. However, limited data are available on the benefits...