April 2000

St. Joseph in Towson begins clinical trial to treat congestive heart failure with pacemakers

St. Joseph Med ical Center, Towson, Md., has begun to enroll patients in a new international clinical trial, called COMPANION, which has the potential to improve the treatment of moderate to severe congestive heart failure. The trial will test whether using bilateral ventricular pacemakers in conjunction with medical therapy can resynchronize the contractility of the heart to improve pumping efficiency and increase quality of life. The 200 patients that St. Joseph will enroll during the next two years will be randomly selected to receive medical therapy alone or medical therapy plus biventricular pacing with or without defibrillation. The pacing device will coordinate stimulation of both the left and right sides of the heart. Early studies have shown that right ventricular pacing alone is not effective in treating congestive heart failure, but bilateral pacing has shown promise in several uncontrolled European studies. The principal investigators for the study at St. Joseph are Thomas Guarnieri, MD, and Sidney Gottlieb, MD. On an international level, the trial will be conducted by up to 80 investigators and will enroll up to 2,200 patients.