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Study: Majority of patients who qualify for lifesaving heart treatment do not receive it
Date:9/24/2013

fibrillators if their heart's ejection fraction a measure of the heart's ability to pump blood is less than 35 percent. Of the 448 patients who did receive proper screening for sudden cardiac arrest, 304 or nearly 68 percent, were ineligible for a defibrillator because their ejection fraction was too high.

"The pumping function of the heart has to be weak to meet the defibrillator guidelines," Chugh said. "Most of the people in our study don't have a low ejection fraction, but they still died of sudden cardiac arrest, which leads me to suggest that we need to take another look at the guidelines."

Although the general public often uses the terms "sudden cardiac arrest" and "heart attack" interchangeably, they are distinctly different medical conditions.

A heart attack is caused when there is a blockage, such as a blood clot, in one or more arteries of the heart, preventing the heart from receiving enough blood, resulting in damage to the heart muscle.

Sudden cardiac arrest, which accounts for half of all deaths caused by heart disease, is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat, called arrhythmia. Arrhythmia causes a disruption in the flow of blood to other organs throughout the body. Without treatment, the patient can die in seconds.

Chugh said more analysis is needed to determine why patients with low ejection fractions did not receive implantable defibrillators.

"Perhaps they had other health problems that drove the decision-making process, or possibly many didn't have health insurance or access to care," Chugh said. "It could be a variety of reasons."


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Contact: Sally Stewart
sally.stewart@cshs.org
310-248-6566
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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