Defibrillator Dangers

Wednesday, January 5, 2011 - 9:15am

New report finds 20 percent of patients with ICDs don't meet guidelines for receiving device.

A new report raises doubts over who should be getting an implantable defibrillator.

There are at least 750,000 Americans with the implants, but researchers have concluded that one in five shouldn't have gotten them.

A study of over 100,000 people with the implants found one in five failed to meet medical criteria of an implant recipient.

"Patients who just had a heart attack, patients who just bypass surgery, patients who were just recently diagnosed with heart failure, patients who have real severe and advanced heart failure... those patients should not be getting implantable defibrillators," says Dr. Sana Al-Khatib of the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

Dr. Al-Khatib was part of the team that conducted the study on implantable defibrillators for the National Institutes of Health and published results in the latest Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study also concluded the consequences for some recipients could be serious.

"We found patients who received this non-evidence based devices were significantly more likely to die, and to have any post-procedure complications," says Dr. Al-Khatib.

Overall, though, the researchers remain convinced of the benefits the implants provide.

It surprised researchers that so many recipients weren't actually eligible for the heart-helping implants, who concluded that some physicians and/or patients were probably not fully aware of the guidelines.

Researchers advise that anyone with an implant check with their doctor to make sure they meet the criteria.

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