Heart failure patients implanted with cardiac defibrillators had a significantly lower risk of death, according to a study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. The finding could have a big impact on the treatment of a wide range of heart failure patients, including those who have not suffered a heart attack, federal officials said. About 50% of deaths from heart failure are sudden, due to irregular heartbeats. Implantable cardiac defibrillators, or ICDs, send an electric signal to correct a potentially fatal irregular heartbeat. The NASPE-Heart Rhythm Society, an organization for health professionals, hailed the study and recommended that the CMS expand Medicare coverage of ICDs. Only an estimated 25% of patients who would benefit from ICDs currently receive them, the group said. Heart failure affects 5 million Americans, according to the NIH. -- by Cinda Becker
Study could drive many more defibrillator implants
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