People with a serious heart condition called nonischemic cardiomyopathy may improve their chances of survival if they have a device called a cardioverter-defibrillator implanted in their chests.
Researchers, assigned about 460 patients with severe cardiomyopathy to receive either standard treatment, with drugs like ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers, or standard treatment plus an implanted defibrillator. A defibrillator is a device that regulates the heart rhythm like a pacemaker, but delivers an electrical jolt to reset the heart if that fails.
Results show those who got the defibrillator were significantly less likely to die. During the initial follow up, 40 people in the standard treatment group passed away, compared to 28 in the defibrillator group. After two years, the mortality rate was about 14 percent in the standard treatment group vs. about 8 percent in the defibrillator group. Significantly, sudden deaths from irregular heartbeats were reduced from 14 in the standard treatment group to just three in the defibrillator group.
Based on their findings researchers however say "the use of these devices should be considered on a case-by-case basis."