Study: Implantable defibrillators may be widely overused

Jan 31, 2011

Implantation of defibrillators might not always be best idea

Although the implantable defibrillator can be a critically important piece of medical technology, responsible for the saving of countless lives, a study published in the most recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests the devices are used inappropriately in many cases.

The study, which monitored thousands of patients receiving the devices, found that those who had a defibrillator implanted as a purely precautionary measure - which the authors called a "non-evidence-based" application - had much less positive health outcomes. Rates of heart disease, failure, and atrial fibrillation - to name but a few serious issues - were noticeably higher in those receiving non-evidence-based implantable defibrillators.

The authors added a comment to the end of their study as well, urging physicians not to implant the devices without clear evidence they will provide a benefit to patients.

As more information about the risks involved in such new medical procedures becomes available, both health and life insurance companies may begin to adjust premiums for consumers whose doctors have prescribed such treatments, experts say.

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