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Procedure Boosts Outcomes in Implantable Defibrillator Patients

Catheter-based cardiac tissue clearing cuts recurrence of a dangerous heart arrhythmia, study finds

THURSDAY, Dec. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Heart patients with a dangerous rapid heartbeat called ventricular tachycardia often get implantable cardiac defibrillators to help control the condition, and a new study suggests that they will have fewer recurrences of the abnormality if they undergo a procedure called catheter ablation before they receive the device.

Reporting Dec. 31 in The Lancet, researchers at Asklepios Klinik St. Georg in Hamburg, Germany, looked at 107 patients aged 18 to 80, all of whom had had a previous heart attack, an episode of stable ventricular tachycardia and reduced left-ventricular function.

Participants were assigned to receive implantable defibrillators either alone or along with catheter ablation, a procedure that destroys faulty tissue within the heart linked to irregular heartbeats.

The patients' outcomes were followed for an average of close to two years.

On average, patients went longer -- an average of 19 months versus six months -- without a recurrence of ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia if they had undergone ablation, the team found.

In a commentary accompanying the report, doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston wrote that the study suggests "that ablation be considered early, in selected patients who are receiving an implantable cardioverter defibrillator for stable ventricular tachycardia, in whom recurrences of a ventricular tachycardia are likely." However, they added that "evidence of a positive effect on survival, subsequent hospital admissions, or quality of life is needed before this strategy can be recommended for routine use."

More information

Learn more about implantable cardioverter defibrillators from the American Heart Association.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Dec. 31, 2009

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