Features April 2008 Issue

Early Ablation May Lessen Need for ICD Shocks

The procedure could reduce the discomfort caused by implanted cardioverter defibrillators in some heart attack patients.

If you received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) after a major heart attack and you’ve started getting frequent jolts to your heart to get it back in rhythm, a cardiologist may recommend radiofrequency ablation in the hope of quieting the troublesome electrical pathway. But a recent study, published in the Dec. 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), suggests that performing ablation soon after ICD implantation greatly reduces the number of shocks the ICD will have to administer in subsequent months. The study followed 128 post-heart attack patients with ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythms) and showed that the number of discharges from the ICDs decreased by two-thirds if the patients underwent ablation.

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