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Aged Patients Can Also Profit From Implantable Defibrillators

US researchers said implantable heart defibrillators that have been found to save lives in younger patients appear to have the same benefit for people over 70.The study suggests that implantable cardioverter defibrillators or ICDs, should be offered to people in their 70s despite recent studies questioning their use in older patients. Implantable defibrillators are small devices implanted under the skin with wires leading to the heart. The devices detect fatal heart rhythms and shock the heart back into a normal rhythm. They are used in people who have damaged heart tissue which reduces the heart's ability to pump blood. Older, sicker patients are usually excluded from clinical trials, but recently research teams have begun looking at this population as well. A study found that treating high blood pressure in people over 80 reduced the risk of other heart problems and fatal strokes. Chan and colleagues studied 986 patients with heart damage from March 2001 to June 2005. About 50 % of them got an ICD. All of them had low heart pumping function and many had other conditions, like diabetes. Overall, the device reduced deaths from any cause by 30 percent which is similar to the rate in studies of younger patients. Chan said the benefit was less for those over 75 who had other significant health problems.