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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....
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