A 'shocking' treatment for cardiac patients
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Sudden cardiac death is the most common way heart patients die. The great majority of the deaths occur from fatal heart rhythms.
There's a new preventive treatment, and men seem to out number women getting the treatment.The treatment implants under the skin a small gadget that can shock the heart back to a normal rhythm, a defibrillator.
A defibrillator can be a painful jolt if you're awake, but that alone doesn't explain the sex difference in patients getting the device. "I'm going to give this to you, and you're going to hold it above the device," said Dr. Larry Chinitz from New York University's Langone Medical Center. The device is called an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD), it can be lifesaving, by shocking an irregular heart rhythm back to normal. "Implant defibrillators are one of the most important devices weve ever had, the implantation of these defibrillators enables people to return to a normal life," said Dr. Chinitz. There's a sex discrepancy in who gets the ICD, Dr. Chinitz estimates that about 70% of patients are men, versus 30% of women. The main reason that more men get an ICD is that men have more cholesterol related heart disease than women, more heart attacks, and as a result, more reason for fatal heart rhythms. 38 year old Heather Bogen's mother had a sudden death. A 24 hour heart test showed she had some potentially fatal beats. Heather got an ICD and it jolted as she boarded a bus one time. "It felt like getting punched in the chest and being electrocuted at the same time, it was worse than childbirth," said Heather. Anxiety over getting jolted like may discourage young women rather than older women from agreeing to an ICD, says one study. "It's definitely a daily thought, but I try not to let it interfere with anything I do," said Heather. There may be cosmetic concerns, especially for young, slender women. The device can make a bulge under the skin, a problem solved by placing it under the breast, or under the chest muscle. "Fatal rhythm risk is only 6-7%, it often becomes a personal decision," said Dr. Chinitz. "I wanted to live and if this was my lifesaving device, I was positive about it," said Pearl Phillips who has a condition called cardiomyopathy, which in increases risk for rhythm trouble. "Some patients will say if I'm at risk for putting that thing in because I can live my life I'll feel fine, others will say if I only have a 6-7% risk, I'll live with that, I'm ok," said Dr. Chinitz.
(Copyright ©2014 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
heart disease, surgery, health news, dr. jay adlersberg
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