Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators are the best solution to a number of electrical problems with the heart, and result in a measurable improvement in quality and length of life for those that need them. However, a recent study entitled Evaluation of Early Complications Related to De Novo Cardioverter Defibrillator Implantation in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that (as summarized here), “4.1 per cent of patients experienced major complications … within 45 days of device implant and they had more than three times the risk of dying within the next 6 months.” It was also noted that the likelihood of complications in women was higher.
The study also found that more complicated devices were a strong predictor of complications. It was noted in the study that patients with more complex and severe problems typically require the more complex devices, making it difficult to ascertain whether the patients’ health or the devices were at fault. I can understand the motivation of the authors in choosing the wording of their conclusion, but I wonder if maybe it sounds a bit too certain without the caveats written in the article. They concluded, “Complications after de novo defibrillator implantation were strongly associated with device type. Major complications were associated with increased risk of mortality.”