Computer software monitoring detects implantable cardioverter-defibrillator malfunctions sooner

March 6, 2012

A software monitoring program that tracks implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) function could detect problems with the devices earlier than current monitoring processes, according to new research in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal.

ICDs monitor and deliver electric shocks to restore normal rhythm when life-threatening, irregular heartbeats occur. But the surgically implanted devices can malfunction, particularly in the leads, or wires, that connect them to the heart, causing injury or death. Device manufacturers track repeated malfunctions and issue recalls if they're widespread. However, often by the time of the recall, thousands of the devices have been implanted in patients worldwide.

"Current monitoring approaches aimed at reducing harm from malfunctioning medical devices rely largely on voluntary reporting of by manufacturers, possibly leading to missed and delayed responses to the problems, such as late recalls," said Robert G. Hauser, M.D., lead study author and senior consulting at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Minn. "We looked at whether using an automated program to monitor large databases of ICD patients might help us detect potential device-related problems earlier."

Hauser and colleagues used a commercially available software surveillance program to compare data from about 1,000 patients with recalled leads to about 1,600 patients implanted with ICD leads still on the market. Patients in both databases had their ICDs implanted between 2001 and 2008.

Using the , researchers simulated what occurred years earlier. The software detected problems with the recalled leads at least a year before the company had recalled them.

"The software works," Hauser said. "Looking at ICD patients implanted years ago, we showed that the automated program detects medical device problems faster than current approaches. Pinpointing the malfunction a year earlier in this case could have spared thousands of patients the health risks, costs and inconvenience of receiving a device prone to failure."

Monitoring newly approved devices could help identify potential problems before the ICDs are introduced on a large scale, he said.

The next step, according to Hauser, is to apply the software to large populations of newly implanted ICD patients, in order to reduce gaps in warning sign detection and action.

Explore further: Patients are living longer with ICDs, but pacing impacts survival rates

Related Stories

Patients are living longer with ICDs, but pacing impacts survival rates

August 28, 2011
The adverse effect of right ventricular pacing on implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) patient survival is sustained long-term; however, the impact appears to be mitigated by cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), ...

Recommended for you

Researchers investigate the potential of spider silk protein for engineering artificial heart

August 18, 2017
Ever more people are suffering from cardiac insufficiency, despite significant advances in preventing and minimising damage to the heart. The main cause of reduced cardiac functionality lies in the irreversible loss of cardiac ...

Lasers used to detect risk of heart attack and stroke

August 18, 2017
Patients at risk of heart attacks and strokes may be spotted earlier thanks to a diagnosis tool that uses near-infrared light to identify high-risk arterial plaques, according to research carried out at WMG, University of ...

Cholesterol crystals are sure sign a heart attack may loom

August 17, 2017
A new Michigan State University study on 240 emergency room patients shows just how much of a role a person's cholesterol plays, when in a crystallized state, during a heart attack.

How Gata4 helps mend a broken heart

August 15, 2017
During a heart attack, blood stops flowing into the heart; starved for oxygen, part of the heart muscle dies. The heart muscle does not regenerate; instead it replaces dead tissue with scars made of cells called fibroblasts ...

Injectable tissue patch could help repair damaged organs

August 14, 2017
A team of U of T Engineering researchers is mending broken hearts with an expanding tissue bandage a little smaller than a postage stamp.

'Fat but fit' are at increased risk of heart disease

August 14, 2017
Carrying extra weight could raise your risk of heart attack by more than a quarter, even if you are otherwise healthy.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.