Previous studies have shown the benefits of implantable defibrillators in younger people. Yet, advanced age, a recommended waiting period, and lack of strong communication when care is transitioned from the hospital to the patient’s regular doctor can all contribute to the decreased use of the devices in seniors.
“Current data suggests that we are grossly underutilizing this therapy,” said Tracy Wang, MD, a Duke cardiologist and senior author of the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Wang and her colleagues analyzed data from more than 10,000 people who were around 78 years old, and whose heart attack had weakened their heart function. One year after their heart attack, the researchers found only 8 percent of this older population had received an implantable defibrillator. Their study also identified a one-third lower risk of death after two years in patients who had defibrillators when compared to those who didn’t. (Read the press release.)