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Patients with Implantable Defibrillators Can Safely Drive

Low risk of shock while driving

MONDAY, Nov. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) are at low risk of shock while driving compared with other activities, according to a study published in the Dec. 4 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Christine M. Albert, M.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined the risk of ICD shocks for ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation during and up to 60 minutes after an episode of driving compared with other activities in 1,188 patients.

The researchers observed 193 shocks over a median follow-up of 562 days. The absolute risk was estimated at one per 25,116 person-hours spent driving. The risk of shock while driving was low (relative risk 1.05). The risk was high within one hour of driving (relative risk 2.24), with most shocks occurring within 30 minutes after driving (RR, 4.46).

The study "is a welcome reassurance that driving can safely be resumed by many patients with ICDs, adding increased quality of life to the increased quantity of life these remarkable devices now provide," Blair P. Grubb, M.D., from the University of Toledo in Ohio, writes in an accompanying editorial.

Albert and colleagues have received grant support and honoraria from pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies, including Boston Scientific.

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