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Implantable Defibrillators Lower Risk of Death in Older Heart Patients
Date:1/14/2009

American Heart Association rapid access journal report:

Study highlights:

-- Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) may reduce the risk of death by 30 percent in patients with reduced heart function.

-- This survival benefit applied to patients 75 years and older in this primary prevention study.

-- Previous studies have focused on younger, healthier patients.

DALLAS, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) can improve survival in patients with heart damage --- even those in their 70s --- according to research reported in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Implanted ICDs reduced the risk of dying by 30 percent in patients younger than 65 years old, 65 to 74, and 75 and older, said Paul Chan, M.D., M.Sc., lead author of the study and assistant professor at the Mid-America Heart Institute and the University of Missouri in Kansas City.

Patients who have damaged heart muscle that results in diminished pumping action --- called left ventricular systolic dysfunction --- are candidates for ICDs to prevent death from life-threatening arrhythmias. The tiny devices are implanted under the skin and connected to the heart muscle by electrodes. An ICD automatically shocks the heart back into normal rhythm when the ICD detects life-threatening rhythms.

Previous studies of ICDs have been conducted in patients who are primarily younger than 75, and who have few complications such as diabetes, chronic obstructive lung disease or a history of stroke.

This primary prevention study recruited 986 consecutive patients who had diminished left ventricular function --- meaning the pumping chamber of the heart was functioning at no more than 35 percent of capacity. Patients were treated from March 2001 though June 2005 and follow
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SOURCE American Heart Association
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