Indexed on: 01 Dec '06Published on: 01 Dec '06Published in: The American Journal of Cardiology®
Although the clinical efficacy of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) has been convincingly demonstrated in clinical trials, the impact of ICDs on health care costs and recipients' quality of life (QOL) is less certain. The existing medical research on the health care costs and QOL effects of ICDs was reviewed and summarized. Medline and the Institute for Scientific Information's Web of Knowledge were searched for publications reporting costs of care and QOL assessments of ICD recipients. Unpublished and non-peer-reviewed "gray" publications were excluded. Reports were included if they reported primary, original patient data that were collected after 1993, when nonthoracotomy defibrillators entered clinical practice. Two reviewers independently evaluated publications for relevance and quality, abstracted study data, and summarized the findings. Excessive heterogeneity among studies prevented formal meta-analysis, so a narrative synthesis was performed, and key themes were identified from the published research. There were limited published data on the costs of ICD care, especially for the primary prevention of sudden cardiac death. The published research on ICD QOL lacked large, multicenter, longitudinal studies. Many ICD QOL studies were performed in small numbers of patients at single centers. Initial ICD implantation costs ranged (in 2006 United States dollars) from $28,500 to $55,200, with annual follow-up costs ranging from $4,800 to $17,000. QOL was higher for ICD recipients than for patients treated with antiarrhythmic drugs, but there was a substantial prevalence of anxiety, depression, and "loss of control" in ICD recipients, particularly in those who had received ICD shocks. In conclusion, ICD implantation remains costly but may be becoming less expensive over time, and ICD recipients' QOL is significantly affected by their devices.