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Title: Haemodynamic optimization of cardiac resynchronization therapy
Author: Kyriacou, Andreas
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2011
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Heart failure carries a very poor prognosis, unless treated with the appropriate pharmacological agents which, have been evaluated in large randomized clinical trials and have demonstrated improvements in morbidity and mortality of this cohort of patients. A significant proportion of these patients develop conduction abnormalities involving both the atrioventricular node and also the specialised conduction tissue (bundle of His and Purkinje fibers) of the ventricular myocardium which is most commonly evidenced by the presence of a wide QRS, typically left bundle branch block. The net effect of these conduction abnormalities is inefficient filling and contraction of the left ventricle. The presence of these conduction abnormalities is an additional strong marker of poor prognosis. Over the last 15 years pacing treatments have been developed aimed at mitigating the conduction disease. Large scale randomized multicentre trials have repeatedly demonstrated the effectiveness of cardiac pacing, officially recognized as cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). This mode of pacing therapy has undoubtedly had a positive impact on both the morbidity and mortality of these patients. Despite the large advancement in the management of heart failure patients by pacing therapies, a significant proportion of patients (30%) being offered CRT are classed as non-responders. Many explanations have been put forward for the lack of response. The presence of scar at the pacing site with failure to capture or delayed capture of myocardium, too much left ventricular scar therefore minimal contractile response, incorrect pacing site due to often limited anatomical options of lead placement and insufficient programming i.e optimization, of pacemaker settings such as the AV and VV delay are just some of the suggested areas perceived to be responsible for the lack of patients' response to cardiac resynchronization therapy. The effect of optimization of pacemaker settings is a field that has been investigated extensively in the last decade. Disappointingly, current methods of assessing the effect of optimization of pacemaker settings on several haemodynamic parameters, such as cardiac output and blood pressure, are marred with very poor reproducibility, so measurement of any effect of optimization is close to being meaningless. Moreover, detailed understanding of the effects of CRT on coronary physiology and cardiac mechanoenergetics is equally, disappointingly, lacking. In this thesis, I investigated the acute effects of cardiac resynchronization therapy and AV optimization on coronary physiology and cardiac mechanoenergetics. This was accomplished using very detailed and demanding series of invasive catheterization studies. I used novel analytical mathematical techniques, such as wave intensity analysis, which have been developed locally and this provided a unique insight of the important physiological entities defining coronary physiology and cardiac mechanics. I explored in detail the application and reliability of photoplethysmography as a tool for non-invasive optimization of the AV delay. Photoplethysmography has the potential of miniaturization and therefore implantation alongside pacemaker devices. I compared current optimization techniques (Echocardiography and ECG) of VV delay against beat-to-beat blood pressure using the Finometer device and defined the criteria that a technique requires if such a technique can be used meaningfully for the optimization of pacemaker settings both in clinical practice and in clinical trials. Finally, I investigated the impact of atrial pacing and heart rate on the optimal AV delay and attempted to characterize the mechanisms underlying any changes of the optimal AV delay under these varying patient and pacing states. In this thesis I found that optimization of AV delay of cardiac resynchronization therapy not only improved cardiac contraction and external cardiac work, but also cardiac relaxation and coronary blood flow, when compared against LBBB. I found that most of the increase in coronary blood flow occurred during diastole and that the predominant drive for this was ventricular microcirculatory suction as evidenced by the increased intracoronary diastolic backward-travelling decompression wave. I showed that non-invasive haemodynamic optimization using the plethysmograph signal of an inexpensive pulse oximeter is as reliable as using the Finometer. Appropriate processing of the oximetric signal improved the reproducibility of the optimal AV delay. The advantage of this technology is that it might be miniaturized and implanted to provide automated optimization. In this thesis I found that other commonly used modalities of VV optimization such as echocardiography and ECG lack internal validity as opposed to non-invasive haemodynamic optimization using blood pressure. This finding will encourage avoidance of internally invalid modalities, which may cause more harm than good. In this thesis I found that the sensed and paced optimal AV delays have, on average, a bigger difference than the one assumed by the device manufacturers and clinicians. As a significant proportion of patients will be atrially paced, especially during exercise, optimization during this mode of pacing is equally crucial as it is during atrial sensing. Finally, I found that the optimal AV delay decreases with increasing heart rate, and the slope of this is within the range of existing pacemaker algorithms used for rate adaptation of AV delay, strengthening the argument for the rate adaptation to be programmed on.
Supervisor: Francis, Darrel P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available