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Cardiovascular Health Channel
Reported January 4, 2007

New Test Determines who Needs Heart Device

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Many heart patients benefit from the life-saving heart device called implantable cardioverter defibrillators, or ICDs. However, new research reveals as many as one-third of the patients who would typically receive the devices may not need them.

Researchers from the Ohio Heart and Vascular Center in Cincinnati and the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., report a new test can determine which patients need ICDs -- designed to shock damaged hearts back into rhythm and save patients from sudden cardiac death. The test is comparable to a standard treadmill "stress test" that is often used for heart patients.

The study reveals the tests, called microvolt T-wave alternans (MTWA), in conjunction with other tests, showed as many as one-third of ICD candidates may not need the device or the surgery to implant it.

"Use of the MTWA test, which has been covered by Medicare since spring of 2006, could truly help us tell which ICD candidates will benefit the most," reports Paul Chan, M.D., M.Sc., senior author and a fellow in cardiovascular medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Although the study authors write MTWA tests could potentially save Medicare a large chunk of the $2.9 billion used to treat ICD patients, the tests are not standard practice. Study authors write they hope this study will lead to more routine use.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: /newsalert/.

SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2007;49:50-58

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