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New UF tool measures heart implant patients' anxiety

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Implantable heart devices are the treatment of choice for patients with potentially life-threatening irregular heartbeats. But the thought of receiving a high-energy shock to restore normal cardiac rhythm can strike fear in their hearts nonetheless.

Just ask Ed Burns, of Ocala, who received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD, five years ago. The uncertainty of when or if the device would fire made him wary of driving long distances. Before setting out on a road trip to California to visit family, Burns researched and made a list of every medical center along the route that could treat ICD patients.

Now a new tool from the University of Florida can help health-care providers identify which patients may need psychological services to cope with anxiety. It's called the Florida Shock Anxiety Scale, and UF researchers report on its effectiveness in the current issue of Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology.

The research was done as part of a continuing series of investigations on ICD recipients' psychological health led by Samuel Sears, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of clinical and health psychology at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions, and Jamie Conti, M.D., an associate professor in the College of Medicine.

"Patients with an ICD can have unique fears that separate them from people with other general anxieties," said Emily Kuhl, the study's lead author and a doctoral candidate in the department of clinical and health psychology.

The ICD is a battery-powered device that constantly monitors the patient's heartbeat and delivers a 750-volt shock to restore normal rhythm if it senses a dangerous rapid rhythm developing. Approximately 150,000 patients worldwide received an ICD in 2004, according to researchers at the University of Marburg in Germany.

Patients' concerns about ICDs recently gained national attention after manufacturers recall
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Contact: Jill Pease
jpease@phhp.ufl.edu
352-273-5816
University of Florida
26-Jun-2006


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