Life has changed beyond comparison for Peter Jenkins, who was fitted with a cardiac resynchronisation therapy device (CRT) in 2012, following a heart attack. Mr Jenkins, 80, of Locks Heath, Hampshire, says: “It’s as if someone has switched something on in me. I’ve got my whole life back, and it’s changed incredibly for the better.” 

CRT plus defibrillator therapy (CRT-D) works by resynchronising the heart’s two chambers, improving its efficiency. For Mr Jenkins, the difference made by the device was immediate and extraordinary.

“Before it was fitted I thought I was a goner. I just couldn’t breathe, and this meant I couldn’t do anything."

"I couldn’t sleep at night and I could barely get up to sit in a chair. I really felt that I wasn’t going to last.” Learning about Mr Jenkins’ breathing difficulties, Dr Flett and the team of cardiologists at University Hospital Southampton decided to upgrade Mr Jenkins’ pacemaker to the CRT-D. Afterwards, even before he left hospital, Mr Jenkins says his breathing had improved beyond comparison, and now he is home he’s able to enjoy some quality time with his three grandchildren aged between 5-9 years. He is teaching them to sail model yachts, and he is actively able to pursue his interest in veteran aircraft.

“My whole life has changed. My heart is now working really well.”

Since the first implantable pacemaker was developed in 1958, millions have benefited from pacemaker therapy, and Mr Jenkins says he would urge anyone recommended this procedure to have it. “I can’t thank the hospital team enough for their help.”

A key benefit of CRT-D technology is that it can be monitored remotely by the hospital. Using a transmitter device, which synchs with the CRT-D to communicate critical information, the hospital team can see immediately how the device is working. Mr Jenkins is delighted to receive such care and attention. He says: It’s like having a really nice Big Brother watching you. They ring me up if something seems wrong – they know about problems even before I do.”

 “It is very satisfying when a patient does well using CRT-D technology, as many patients do.  For these people, the change to their life is often transformative.”

- Dr Andrew Flett, Cardiologist at University Hospital Southampton

Guidelines used by clinicians are pretty clear about the evidence supporting CRT-D use in people with heart failure, he says, and as device technology improves, the odds of a patient benefiting from this treatment have risen from two in three up to nine in ten in some patients. There are also benefits to the NHS, believes Dr Flett, as these devices can additionally deliver organisational cost savings resulting from the prevention of emergency (acute) admissions for heart failure. According to research, acute admission rates relating to heart failure can be reduced by around 50 per cent as a result of using CRT-D technology. According to Dr Flett, a transmitter device can play a role in this, as it helps the cardiology team to identify problems with the device before they become detrimental to the patient’s health.