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Implantable cardiac defibrillator use significantly lowers heart failure mortality

NEW ORLEANS -- The use of an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) can provide a significant reduction in mortality in heart failure patients, according to a study coordinated by researchers from the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

"Treatment using conventional therapy plus an implantable cardiac defibrillator showed a statistically significant reduction in total mortality when compared to standard treatment with a placebo and standard treatment with amiodarone, an anti-arrhythmia drug," said Kerry L. Lee, Ph.D., an associate professor of biostatistics at Duke and principal investigator of the data coordinating center of the trial.

Results of the trial, called SCD-HeFT (Sudden Cardiac Death in Heart Failure Trial), were presented today (March 8, 2004) at the American College of Cardiology scientific sessions. The trial was sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Medtronic, Inc., Minneapolis, supplied the ICDs and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Madison, N.J., supplied the amiodarone and placebo pills. Lee has no financial interests in either company.

Currently, more than 5 million Americans suffer from congestive heart failure (CHF), with more than 400,000 new cases diagnosed annually. CHF is a condition of decreased or impaired function of the heart muscle resulting in an inability to pump sufficient blood through the body. Patients with CHF also have a higher risk of abnormal heart rhythm, known as arrhythmia, which often leads to sudden cardiac death. About half of all CHF patients who die do so from sudden cardiac death.

"With the population growing older, chronic heart failure will become a much more significant problem in the United States," Lee noted.

Traditionally, CHF is treated with ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, diuretics, statins and aspirin to improve the heart's efficiency. This study's goal was to determine whether adding a cardiac defibrillator or anti-arrhythmia medication to standard the
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Contact: Richard Puff
richard.puff@duke.edu
919-684-4148
Duke University Medical Center
8-Mar-2004


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