Implantable Defibrillators Offer Heart Patients a Better Quality of Life: Study

Recipients report high level of satisfaction with the devices

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WEDNESDAY, April 11, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) help heart disease patients live longer, lead more active lives and enjoy a quality of life comparable to that of average Americans.

That's the conclusion of a new study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

It also concluded that patients with ICDs -- electronic monitoring devices that deliver a lifesaving shock to the heart in the event of cardiac arrest -- have a high level of satisfaction with the units, a finding that offsets longstanding perceptions that ICDs extend, but seriously impair, patients' lives.

Among the study's findings:

  • Patients reported high levels of emotional, physical and functional well-being and said they were satisfied and able to adapt to living with the ICD.
  • Driving, lifting heavy objects and sexual activity were the most common lifestyle concerns among ICD patients. This suggests that doctors should discuss these issues with patients.

The study is published in the April issue of the journal Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology.

The researchers said their study is the first to look at quality of life and cost in "primary prevention" ICD patients -- those who have no prior history of abnormal heart rhythms but whose heart disease may increase their risk of sudden cardiac death.

"While the lifesaving benefits of ICDs have been well documented over the last decade, little was known about the experience of patients in the real world, post implantation," study author Dr. Peter Groeneveld, assistant professor of general internal medicine, said in a prepared statement.

"This study looked at a population that better represents current device recipients, which, in turn, means that physicians can now communicate a more accurate description of life with the device to patients," he said.

Nearly 50,000 surgeries to implant ICDs were done in the United States in 2005.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about ICDs.

SOURCE: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, news release, April 5, 2007

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