Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine have discovered that implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) -- electric monitoring devices that deliver a lifesaving shock in the event of a cardiac arrest -- help patients with heart problems live longer more active lives.
Further, the study found most patients living with ICDs enjoy a quality of life consistent with average Americans their age and have a high level of satisfaction with the device, offsetting longstanding perceptions that the technology extends but seriously impairs patients¡¦ lives. Peter Groeneveld, M.D., M.S., Assistant Professor of General Internal Medicine and his co-authors report their findings in the April 2007 issue of the journal Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology.
The study is the first to analyze quality of life and cost in "primary prevention" ICD patients, that is patients with no prior history of abnormal heart rhythms, but whose heart disease may increase their risk of sudden cardiac death. It is also among the first to verify the effectiveness of ICDs in patients who were not enrolled in clinical trials.
The use of ICDs has rapidly increased in recent years, particularly since Medicare and other health payers expanded coverage of the device for primary prevention. Nearly 50,000 implants were performed in 2005 in the United States, alone, making it among the most common cardiovascular device used in contemporary clinical practice.
"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. 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 about life with the device to patients," said Groeneveld.
Lifesaving Benefits, Return to Active Life, and Reduced Cost
Researchers administered a comprehensive patient survey to better understand quality of life benefits, for both primary prevention and "secondary prevention" ICD patients, i.e., patients who have already experienced a cardiac event.
Key findings include:
According to Groeneveld, the quality of life benefits emerge from advances in ICD technology over the last decade resulting in smaller, more easily programmed devices which can more accurately respond to the needs of the individual patient.
"With an estimated one million Americans eligible for implantation today, it is extremely important to verify that ICDs deliver value on par with the health care dollars expended in most heart patients, even among the elderly," he said.
The research team also included Mary Anne Matta, MS, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Feifei Yang, MS, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Janice J. Suh, BS, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Judy A. Shea, PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; J. Sanford Schwartz, MD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; Paul A. Heidenreich, MD, MS, Stanford University School of Medicine and United States Department of Veterans Affairs; and Mark V. Pauly, PhD, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
This research was supported by an unrestricted grant from The Institute for Health Technology Studies (InHealth), a Washington nonprofit organization that supports research and analysis of the economic, social, and health effects of patient access to medical technology innovation. Dr. Groeneveld was additionally supported by a Research Career Development Award from the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Service.
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