Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fewer shocks with added drug

The experience of an electric shock by an implanted defibrillator can prompt feelings of anxiety, depression, or fear. Medications can decrease the arrhythmias that lead to the electric shock.

The addition of Cordarone (amiodarone) to beta-blocker therapy after implantation of a cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) significantly reduces the risk of shock, but the side effects of the drug may outweigh this benefit.

In the study of 140 patients, Forty-one beta-blocker patients had shocks during the 12 months of treatment versus 12 patients randomized to beta-blocker plus Cordarone.

Freddy Abisama, M.D., director of the electrocardiography laboratory at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans, said he doubts the results will have a major impact on clinical practice because he and other electrocardiologists are looking at the bottom line. "Amiodarone does cut down on the number of shocks, but it does so at a significant price," he said.

Your doctor will explain the risks and benefits of amiodarone therapy. However, the benefit of implanted ICDs is not questioned. Studies have shown, for some time now, that implanted defibrillators are effective in reducing sudden cardiac death. Now, these same benefits hold true for women.

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