In a new study, researchers demonstrated that the use of primary prevention implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) is associated with improved survival rates and decreased risk of death in women as well as men with heart failure. The research article, “Comparative Effectiveness of Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators for Primary Prevention in Women,” was published in Circulation: Heart Failure, a journal of the American Heart Association.
ICDs are small devices designed to be placed beneath the skin of the chest. When the device senses an abnormal heart activity, it will deliver electrical shocks to restore normal heart function to the patient.
Previous clinical trials have shown that acquiring ICDs preventively increases the survival outcomes of patients with heart failure. However, these studies detailing ICDs prevention benefits have enrolled only a limited number of women, so results were not significant for women.
The new research aimed to answer this question and evaluate survival rates between women with and without preventive ICDs through examination of clinical data.
The research team analyzed data from 264 hospitals in the U.S. that were included in the “Get With The Guidelines for Heart Failure” registry, and compared survival scores of patients with heart failure with preventive or prescribed ICDS, and patients with similar clinical characteristics but no ICDs. The study included 430 women and 859 men.
The results showed that among women, 40.2 percent with ICDs and 48.7 percent without the device died after three years. Among men, 42.9 percent with ICDs versus 52.9 percent without ICDs died after the same period. The results led the authors to conclude that, overall, the use of ICDs reduced the risk of death by 20 percent in male and female patients with heart failure.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Emily Zeitler, said in a press release, “Currently, many eligible patients with heart failure are not referred to physicians who can implant the devices. If you have heart failure, ask your doctor whether you might benefit from an ICD in addition to your other therapy. I would encourage patients and providers to enthusiastically pursue good research as participants and enrollers. When we don’t equitably enroll women or other important groups in trials, we can be left with less clear answers on how to treat heart disease.”