"However, the study is definitely not definitive, and we will need to see the results of similar, ongoing trials before we change practice," Curtis said.
One problem is that the research is part of a larger study that hasn't shown such a dramatic improvement in patients due to the technology, Curtis said.
"The reasons of this discrepancy are not clear, but it makes it that much more important that the results be confirmed before we start using this technology more aggressively," he said.
Heist, however, said another study came up with similar results.
Overall, only about 20 percent of patients whose lives may be improved by defibrillators actually get them, Heist said. "This is due to a combination of patient reluctance and lack of knowledge by referring physicians," he said. "Many lives could be saved if this rate could be improved."
For more about heart failure, visit the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Jeptha Curtis, M.D., assistant professor, medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.; Kevin Heist, M.D., Ph.D., cardiac electrophysiologist, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Sept. 30, 2009, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, online
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