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Implantable cardioverter defibrillators: risks accompany the life-saving benefits
  1. Brett D Atwater,
  2. James P Daubert
  1. Electrophysiology Section, Cardiology Division, Department of Medicine, Duke Clinical Research Institute, Duke University Medical Centre, Durham, North Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr James P Daubert, Box 3174, Electrophysiology Section, Cardiology Division, Department of Medicine, Duke Clinical Research Institute, Duke University Medical Centre, Durham, NC 27710, USA; james.daubert{at}duke.edu

Abstract

Sudden cardiac arrest is the one of the most common causes of death in developed countries and accounts for between 180 000 and over 450 000 per year in the USA. Antiarrhythmic drug approaches to prevention of sudden cardiac death have been resoundingly ineffective. The implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) constitutes one of the most important and well validated therapeutic advances in modern cardiovascular medicine. Consequently, ICD use has increased exponentially, although implementation has been quite variable geographically and with respect to other measures. In view of the expanded use of ICDs, the potential shortcomings and risks of ICD therapy have attracted attention. This commentary summarises the weaknesses, disadvantages and risks of the ICD in a balanced fashion in light of their proven life-saving benefits.

  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillators
  • adverse effects
  • psychology
  • controlled clinical trials
  • randomised
  • sudden cardiac arrest
  • atrial fibrillation
  • extraordinary treatment
  • sudden cardiac death
  • arrhythmogenic right ventricular dyplasia

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests Dr. James Daubert reports honoraria for lectures and/or advisory board from Medtronic, Boston Scientific, St. Jude, and Sorin; research grants from Medtronic, Boston Scientific; and fellowship support to my institution from Medtronic, Boston Scientific, St. Jude and Biotronik. No stock or stock options.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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