Cardiac devices may benefit healthier heart patients: research suggests that people with less severe heart damage may see significantly better survival odds with ICDs.
plenty of studies have demonstrated the life-saving benefits for heart patients receiving implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). But much of that research focused on patients with badly damaged hearts.
However, a recent analysis of ICD patients found that the devices dramatically improved survival times in patients with less severe heart impairment.
ICDs include small generators implanted under the skin in the chest and thin, flexible leads that extend to the heart. The devices sense abnormal heart rhythms and send tiny electrical charges through the leads to the heart muscle to help restore a steady rhythm. ICDs are usually provided to patients who have dangerously abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or who suffered a heart attack that damaged the heart's electrical system.
"This study examines patients with less severe heart muscle problems and shows that signficant benefit is obtained," says Bruce Wilkoff, MD, director of Cardiac Pacing and Tachyarrhythmia Devices at Cleveland Clinic. "There are additional trials that are in process now with even more preserved ejection fractions looking for benefits of ICDs."
Ejection fraction is a measurement of the blood that is pumped out of the heart with each contraction. Patients with lower ejection fractions have reduced heart function, which in turn results in less blood being pumped throughout the body. Heart failure is a condition characterized by very poor ejection fraction. A patient with heart failure may be given a special ICD that includes a cardiac resynchronization therapy device that helps both ventricles work in better synchronization.