Research ArticleCardiology

Pacemaker-induced transient asynchrony suppresses heart failure progression

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Translational Medicine  23 Dec 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 319, pp. 319ra207
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aad2899

Disruptive technology

Healthy and the majority of failing hearts beat synchronously. However, some hearts contract with poor coordination and if they are weak, this worsens clinical outcomes. Pacemakers used to reset a heart’s rhythm can also change the synchrony of contraction, making it better or worse, and current therapy called resynchronization makes it better. Perhaps counterintuitively, Kirk et al. demonstrate that using a pacemaker to purposely induce dyssynchrony—but only for part of each day—makes the synchronous failing heart better. In their process, pacemaker-induced transient asynchrony (PITA), the heart’s right ventricle is paced to induce a 6-hour period of dyssynchrony each day, followed by atrial pacing to resynchronize the heart for the remaining 18 hours. In dogs with heart failure, PITA halted chamber dilation and negative remodeling of the heart tissue, improved cellular signaling and force generation, and resulted in normal muscle fiber structure and function, similar to healthy controls. PITA may help the majority of patients with heart failure who have synchronous contraction and thus are not treated with standard resynchronization pacemakers.