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Patients Often Ill-Informed on Impact of Heart Device
Date:2/18/2013

MONDAY, Feb. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors often don't discuss the psychological impact and long-term risks of implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) with their patients. This leaves people unaware of how seriously the devices can affect their quality of life, a new study finds.

Patients have this device implanted in their chest or abdomen to treat arrhythmia -- an abnormal heartbeat. The ICD provides electrical shocks to restore a normal heartbeat and prevent fatal cardiac arrest.

"Getting an ICD is clearly a life-changing event for the patient," study principal investigator Dr. Paul Hauptman, a professor of internal medicine at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, said in a university news release. "Physicians not only have to point out the benefits of this device, but also let the patients know about its risks beyond those of the implantation procedure itself."

The study involved 41 patients with ICDs and 11 cardiologists in three cities. The participants provided details on the discussions they had with their doctors before their ICD was implanted.

After receiving an ICD, many of the patients experienced symptoms of depression, anxiety and changes in their body image. They said these possible side effects were not mentioned in discussions they had with their doctor before the procedure.

Also after receiving the device, many patients had trouble performing routine physical labor. Others reported that they did not like air travel due to extra security screening at airports.

Eighty percent of patients said they did not discuss any possible long-term complications from an ICD with their doctor before the procedure. These patients also reported that they were not warned about any changes they could expect in their quality of life.

In conducting the study, the researchers also observed cardiologists informing "fake" patients about getting an ICD. The doctors focused on the devi
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