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Women May Not Benefit From Implantable Defibrillators, Study Says

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Thursday, September 17, 2009 12:03 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Medical Devices and Implants, Heart Devices, Heart Failure, Pacemakers and Defibrillators, Women's Health, FDA and Prescription Drugs

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

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IMAGE SOURCE: © Wikimedia Commons/ Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are not effective in women.

For the study, researchers pooled data from five clinical trials of defibrillators. Such devices monitor the heart for irregular heartbeats and shock it back to its normal rhythm.

A total of 3,810 men and 934 women with heart failure were involved in the study. Some of the patients got ICDs surgically implanted; others got medical care that didn’t include an ICD.

The studies showed that among men with congestive heart failure and other cardiac problems, the devices reduced the likelihood of sudden death. But the same benefit was not seen for women. In fact, the likelihood of death was no better – or worse – with our without an ICD for the women.

The reasons for the findings are unclear, note researchers. But, Dr. Hamid Ghanbari, MD, of the Providence Hospital Heart Institute and Medical Center theorizes that ICDs may be better suited for men due to underlying differences among men and women. The researchers also note that ICDs have mainly been studied on men, so more research is needed on women patients.

“Although 30 percent of ICDs are implanted in women, there isn’t much evidence that these devices help prevent death in women with heart failure," Dr. Rita Redberg, a cardiologist at the University of California, wrote in an editorial in the journal.

Medtronic Inc., Boston Scientific and St. Jude Medical are the three major producers of defibrillators. #


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