The research, led by Duke University heart specialist Sana M. Al-Khatib, M.D., found that patients who received a defibrillator but whose heart condition didn't match recommended criteria were more likely to die or suffer from a complication in the hospital.
What do you do if you've been implanted with a defibrillator? And if you're told you need one, how can you tell whether the advice is solid?
Here are the facts heart patients may want to consider — along with the guidelines that list which heart patients shouldn't get a defibrillator.
If you have an implanted defibrillator already
If it shocks your heart in response to an abnormal rhythm, it's clearly helping you, says Al-Khatib. In the absence of such evidence, ultrasound and nuclear medicine tests can evaluate heart function and your current risk of cardiac arrest. When the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) battery runs down (roughly every five to seven years), there's an opportunity to discuss whether or not to replace the device.