Kidney disease increases risk of sudden cardiac death for ICD patients

September 18, 2006

End-stage kidney disease significantly increases the risk of life-threatening heart rhythm abnormalities in patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), according to a study published in the October 2006 edition of Heart Rhythm. However, compared to ICD patients without kidney disease, patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) survived less than half as many years (3.2 years vs. 7.4 years, respectively) despite being implanted with a cardiac device.

"The study calls into question the survival benefit of ICDs in patients with this degree of kidney disease who meet current implant indications," said Dr. Rod Passman, M.D., M.S.C.E., a cardiac electrophysiologist and epidemiologist at Northwestern University School of Medicine and senior author of the study. "Continued research is needed to determine what can be done to prevent sudden death due to abnormal heart rhythms in patients with ESRD and to determine which ESRD patients can benefit from ICD therapy."

The study was conducted at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and involved 585 patients with and without ESRD prior to ICD implantation and was the first to identify kidney disease as a risk factor for appropriate ICD therapy. Therapy occurs when the device delivers a shock to terminate ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia, rhythms that may be fatal if left untreated.

More than half a million people have ESRD, which occurs when the kidneys fail to excrete harmful wastes and, as a result, causes the body to retain fluid, potassium, and other toxins. Sudden cardiac death is often the result of rapid and chaotic heart rhythms in the bottom chambers of the heart and is the most frequent cause of death in people with ESRD, though the exact cause is not fully understood.
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Editor's Note: To schedule an interview with Dr. Passman or receive a copy of the article, please contact Rachael Lille Moore at 202-464-3476 or rmoore@hrsonline.org.

About the Heart Rhythm Society

The Heart Rhythm Society is the international leader in science, education and advocacy for cardiac arrhythmia professionals and patients, and the primary information resource on heart rhythm disorders. Its mission is to improve the care of patients by promoting research, education and optimal health care policies and standards. Incorporated in 1979 and based in Washington, DC, it has a membership of over 4,500 heart rhythm professionals in over 74 countries around the world.

About Heart Rhythm

Heart Rhythm provides rapid publication of the most important science developments in the field of arrhythmias and cardiovascular electrophysiology. As the Official Journal of the Heart Rhythm Society, Heart Rhythm publishes both basic and clinical subject matter of scientific excellence devoted to the electrophysiology (EP) of the heart and blood vessels, as well as therapy. The journal is the only EP publication serving the entire electrophysiology community from basic to clinical academic researchers, private practitioners, technicians, industry and trainees. Heart Rhythm received a debut Impact Factor of 2.6 and was ranked 21st out of 72 cardiovascular medicine journals by the Institute for Scientific Information. Additionally, the journal ranks fifth in the Immediacy Index among cardiology publications. It is also the official publication of the Cardiac Electrophysiology Society.

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