Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Failure Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Implants Protect People With Heart Failure

Advanced Pacemakers, ICDs Reduce Risk of Death for Those With Heart Failure

WebMD Health News

May 19, 2004 -- For most people with severe heart failure and irregular heartbeats, a combination of a high-tech pacemaker and implantable defibrillator may provide the best protection against death, according to new research.

Researchers say the results of the two major studies published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine may lead to wider use of the devices in people with severe heart failure -- a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's needs.

The pacemakers studied not only help the heart keep up when its natural beat is too slow like traditional pacemakers, but they also make the heart pump more efficiently. Meanwhile, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) delivers an electrical shock to prevent potentially dangerous heart rhythm abnormalities.

In the first study, researchers compared the effectiveness of the advanced pacemaker and implantable defibrillator vs. drug therapy in preventing hospitalization or death in people with advanced heart failure. They found the devices offered the greatest benefits, and use of both reduced the risk of death in patients with severe heart failure by 36%.

The second study showed that implanting a defibrillator in people with heart failure not caused by coronary artery disease or hardening of the arteries significantly reduced their risk of sudden death. People with this type of heart failure often die suddenly due to an irregular heartbeat.

Devices Beat Drug Therapy Along for Heart Failure

The first study looked at whether adding a pacemaker or ICD to traditional drug therapy for heart failure provided additional health benefits in reducing the risk of death or hospitalization for more than 1,500 people with advanced heart failure.

The heart failure patients were randomly assigned to receive drug therapy (including diuretics, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, and others), alone or in combination with either a pacemaker or a pacemaker-defibrillator combination.

Researchers found that compared with drug therapy alone, use of a pacemaker reduced the risk of death or hospitalization from any cause by 19%, and use of both devices reduced the risk by 20%.

Overall, the study showed that use of a pacemaker reduced the risk of death from any cause by 24%, and the combination pacemaker-defibrillator reduced the risk by 36%.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Compressed heart
Article
Salt Shockers
Slideshow
 
Inside A Heart Attack
Slideshow
lowering blood pressure
SLIDESHOW
 

Mechanical Heart
Article
Omega 3 Overview Slideshow
Slideshow
 
Atrial Fibrillation Guide
Slideshow
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Slideshow
 

Compressed heart
Article
FAQ Heart Failure
Article
 
Cholesterol Confusion
Health Check
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Slideshow
 

WebMD Special Sections