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Managing Psychosocial Distress in ICD Recipients

Managing Psychosocial Distress in ICD Recipients

Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) have been shown to prevent life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias, but recipients can sometimes have dramatic experiences resulting from care. Each month, about 10,000 Americans have ICDs implanted to restore normal heart rhythm and prevent sudden cardiac death. “Many people who experience cardiac arrhythmias are surprised to learn of their potentially life-threatening condition,” explains Sandra B. Dunbar, RN, DSN, FAAN, FAHA. “Patients and their family are often forced into critical medical decision making and required to confront and cope with their condition. They need to be educated on their treatment options and adjust to the fact that they need an ICD.” Studies have shown that ICDs can significantly improve survival and quality of life (QOL), but the underlying arrhythmia and its treatment may be accompanied by adverse psychological responses. “These responses may be underappreciated in some cases and warrant greater attention by healthcare providers,” says Dunbar. “Focusing on ways to optimize psychological outcomes for those who are considering or receiving an ICD is paramount.” Psychological outcomes are an important component of QOL and reflect an aspect of the costs and benefits beyond simply living longer.” “Focusing on ways to optimize psychological outcomes for those who are considering or receiving an ICD is paramount.” In an issue of Circulation, Dunbar and colleagues at the American Heart Association (AHA) had a scientific statement published that provides an evidence-based comprehensive review of psychosocial considerations and QOL for people who receive ICDs. The statement also describes the concerns and educational needs of ICD patients and their families and outlines evidence supporting interventions for improving educational and psychological outcomes for these patients....
Devices for Cardiac Rhythm Abnormalities: A Guideline Update

Devices for Cardiac Rhythm Abnormalities: A Guideline Update

According to recent estimates, about 400,000 pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are surgically implanted each year in the United States. In 2008, the American College of Cardiology Foundation (ACCF), American Heart Association (AHA), and the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) released guidelines for using device therapy to manage cardiac rhythm abnormalities. Since the release of the 2008 guidelines, many clinical research advances relating to device-based therapies have emerged, says Andrew E. Epstein, MD, FAHA, FACC, FHRS. “In an effort to help clinicians keep pace with these advances, the ACCF, AHA, and HRS jointly released updated guidelines in 2012 for the use of device-based therapy in treating heart rhythm disorders. The guidelines can help in clinical decision making in most circumstances.” The 2012 update writing group included experts in device therapy, cardiovascular care, internal medicine, cardiovascular surgery, and pediatric and adult electrophysiology. The guidelines were also developed in collaboration with the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, Heart Failure Society of America, and Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Building on Earlier Cardiac Device Guidelines For the 2012 update, the writing group began by reviewing the 2008 recommendations. The latter are largely unchanged for standard pacing and ICD indications. However, given new data on cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), the 2008 guidelines were updated with CRT as its focus, especially with regard to expanding indications for this treatment (Figure 1). “CRT can significantly improve quality and quantity of life by delaying or avoiding worsening heart failure.” —Andrew E. Epstein, MD, FAHA, FACC, FHRS “Despite our improvements in managing patients with device-based therapies, it can still be challenging for physicians to select patients in whom...

Exploring Variances in Dual-Chamber ICD Use

Each year in the United States, approximately 140,000 implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) are implanted in cardiac patients. Physicians often face challenges when working with patients to decide whether it’s best to use a single- or dual-chamber device. Some patients have a clear indication for a dual-chamber device because they have an indication for a pacemaker. For patients without an indication for a pacemaker, the decision is much less clear. The potential benefits of dual-chamber devices remain to be proven, and they may have more complications. Clinical trial data to guide physicians on which option to choose have been lacking. Currently, nearly two-thirds of patients undergoing ICD implantation for primary prevention receive dual-chamber devices. Variations in Dual-Chamber ICD Use In a study published in the April 23, 2012 Archives of Internal Medicine, my colleagues and I set out to explore hospital-level variation in the use of dual-chamber ICDs across the U.S. Using the Medicare-mandated National Cardiovascular Data Registry (NCDR) ICD registry, we looked at 87,115 patients from 2006 to 2009 receiving an ICD as primary prevention without a documented indication for a pacemaker. We only wanted to analyze patients for whom it wasn’t clear whether a single- or dual-chamber ICD was the appropriate choice. Of these patients, about 58% received a dual-chamber ICD. More importantly, use of each ICD type varied significantly by hospital and by physician. In some hospitals and with some physicians, 100% of patients without a clear indication for a dual-chamber ICD received such a device. At other hospitals and with other physicians, 0% of these patients received a dual-chamber ICD. “Differences in the local culture and practice...
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