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Who Should Get Implantable Defibrillators?

Cardiac imaging pinpoints patients who'll benefit most from heart shocker device

MONDAY, Oct. 6, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Examining images of the heart and its surrounding blood flow can help doctors identify people who will gain the most benefit from electronic implants to treat heart rhythm problems.

That's what researchers report in a study in the Oct. 6 online issue of Circulation.

Dutch researchers used single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and echocardiography (ultrasound images of the heart) to assess the hearts of 153 people who survived life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias.

The researchers concluded the patients with the most scarring on the heart and the most reduction in left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) had the greatest risk of suffering recurrent arrhythmias.

Using the imaging technologies to identify patients who are greatest risk could lead to more efficient use of lifesaving, but expensive, implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), the study says.

"Patients with extensive scar tissue and LVEF less than or equal to 30 percent are at high risk for (arrhythmia) recurrences, and ICD implantation may be preferred in these patients," co-author Dr. Alida E. Borger says in a statement.

"This (evaluation) is very important because it can help guide patient management and might serve to some extent as a gatekeeper for the use of ICDs," co-author Dr. Jeroen J. Bax adds.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about arrhythmia.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Oct. 6, 2003
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