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Study suggests implantable defibrillators not effective in women

A new study has the potential to dramatically shrink the market for a made-in-Minnesota medical device.

The study, by researchers at a Michigan heart institute, examined data from five clinical studies and concluded that implanted cardiac defibrillators are effective at preventing death from congestive heart failure in men only. The analysis found no benefits to the nearly 1,000 women included in the studies.

The devices monitor for irregular heart rhythms. If detected, the devices deliver a mild electrical pulse that’s meant to shock the heart back to normal rhythm and prevent sudden cardiac death.

An implantable defibrillator costs about $35,000, and about 30 percent of them are implanted in women, according to the study, which was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. “In other words, ICDs are being implanted in hundreds of thousands of women without substantial evidence of benefit,” the journal said.

The three major defibrillator producers, the New York Times notes, are Medtronic, Boston Scientific, and St. Jude Medical.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by MaryAnn Dean on 09/15/2009 - 11:35 am.

    I’ve been reading a website that addresses the quality of medical reporting. This report would have received a D- or an F! The report did not specify that the failure, if it occurred, was in patients with congestive heart failure only- just one of many reason for a defibrillator. Pretty scary for those women reading this article who have defibs for other reasons!! Please – better condensation of data.

  2. Submitted by Dan Haugen on 09/15/2009 - 01:10 pm.

    Thank you for the comment. I’m updating my report to include that congestive heart failure detail.

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