One-Third of Implanted Heart Defibrillators are Unnecessary

Talk about the practice of unnecessary/conventional medicine, I hope you're not among the one-third of American patients who have had defibrillators implanted into their chests needlessly, according to a new study.

Researchers collected data on more than 750 patients from two Ohio medical facilities who had survived heart attacks but had suffered ischemic cardiomyopathy (permanent heart muscle damage due to a lack of blood flow). Each patient was given a series of tests, including the microvolt T-wave alternans (MTWA), while being evaluated for a defibrillator.

Although results from the MTWA test weren't used in the decision-making process, 67 percent showed a positive or inconclusive result and about half the patients in the study received a defibrillator. Here's the kicker: The mortality rate among patients who had a negative result on the MTWA test and received a defibrillator anyway were no better than those who skipped the implantable device and had the same negative result.

In other words, a simple test may rule out the possibility of a heart patient needing an implantable device that can cost some $90,000 over a lifetime about 33 percent of the time.

Those results were probably just as demoralizing and aggravating to the defenders of conventional medicine as a study I posted last year about a diet rich in omega-3 fats being a far more effective alternative than an external defibrillator in preventing sudden death.

Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Vol. 49, No. 1, January 2, 2007: 50-58

EurekAlert January 3, 2007