Electrical signals applied during the absolute refractory period: an investigational treatment for advanced heart failure in patients with normal QRS duration

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2005 Dec 20;46(12):2229-36. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2005.05.093.


Cardiac resynchronization therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for patients with systolic ventricular dysfunction, prolonged (>120 ms) QRS duration, and New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class III or IV symptoms despite optimal medical therapy. However, studies show that a majority of heart failure patients have QRS duration <120 ms. We have been investigating the potential utility of cardiac contractility modulating (CCM) signals as a treatment option for such patients. Cardiac contractility modulating signals are non-excitatory signals applied during the absolute refractory period using a pacemaker-like device that connects to the heart with pacemaker leads. Acute studies carried out in animals and humans with heart failure suggest that CCM signals can enhance the strength of left ventricular contraction. Results of initial long-term studies designed mainly to demonstrate feasibility and provide preliminary indication of safety in patients with medically refractory NYHA functional class III heart failure are summarized. The results of these preclinical and clinical studies formed the basis for proceeding with two prospective, randomized clinical studies currently underway to definitively test the safety and efficacy of this treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiac Output, Low / diagnosis
  • Cardiac Output, Low / physiopathology*
  • Cardiac Output, Low / therapy*
  • Cardiac Pacing, Artificial / methods*
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Humans
  • Refractory Period, Electrophysiological*
  • Severity of Illness Index