Pumps compared to the pacing/resync devices

Implanted by cardiac surgeons through thoracotomy, the CardioSupport device, manufactured by Cardio Technologies in Pine Brook, NJ, is used in an acute episode of heart failure.

The pump assists the heart temporarily by helping it move blood forward. It is typically used for patients waiting for transplant who have had massive heart attacks and need something to keep them alive.

In contrast, the pacemaker-defibrillator-resynchronization devices provide long-term, continuous therapy. They are designed to stay in place for the life of the patient and are "permanent treatments given to patients who will leave the hospital shortly after the device is implanted," says Angel Leon, MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Emory Health Care/Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta. "They will go home and not need anything else."

Devices like InSync and InSync ICD made by Minneapolis-based Medtronic are not pumps; they provide a stimulus, "a way to electrically stimulate both chambers of the heart to let the heart do the work better as opposed to an assist device that actually does the pumping," explains Leon.