External Options for Heart Failure

Heart failure patients can use an external defibrillator to shock heart back into rhythm

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Heart failure patients have a new option to prevent sudden cardiac death. They can wear an external monitor that will make sure their heart beats right.

The wearable defibrillator monitors their heart and detects if there are any problems. It can deliver an electric shock to reset the heart beat and flow. 

The risk of death in congestive heart failure patients is staggering. Keeping the heart beat in line leads to a better chance at life. 

"Talk to your doctor about your heart monitoring options"

Dr. Andrew Kao, of Mid America Heart and Vascular Institute, and colleagues led the study to find out if a wearable cardioverter defibrillator could improve the health of patients with heart failure.

Heart failure patients have a high risk of sudden death. Inserting a implantable cardioverter defibrillator has lessened their risk. Unfortunately, some patients are not a good candidate for this device. These patients include those that have been recently diagnosed and those waiting for a heart transplant.

Researchers enrolled 89 heart failure patients to wear the device. Most of the patients were male and between the ages of 25 and 82. They wore the defibrillator on average for 75 days. The study ended after 90 days.

Overall, the results look promising. No one died or had cardiac arrest while wearing the device. After use of the defibrillator, 41.5 percent saw a huge improvement in health. Only 34.1 percent had to have an implantable defibrillator inserted.

It is important to note that the wearable device never had to release a shock. Also noteworthy is that the patient's improvement could be the result of medications and time. It may not be the device that improved their health. 

"In conclusion, the wearable cardioverter defibrillator monitored the heart failure patients until further assessment of risk," the authors commented in the study.

The authors listed several limitations to the study. It was a small study. They did not follow up with the 8.5 percent that dropped out of the study. Other factors not measured could have accounted for the improvements. Mortality rate may not have captured all deaths because of the source used.

The study was published in BMC Cardiovascular Disorders journal on-line. It was funded by ZOLL Medical Company, makers of the wearable defibrillatetor. The authors disclosed that two of the authors work for ZOLL.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 19, 2012
Last Updated:
December 28, 2012