Defibrillator vest fails test

Patients who have just survived a heart attack and consequently have a dangerously-weak heart face a high risk of sudden death. Giving them a wearable defibrillator that can restart their heart doesn’t improve their odds, according to the formal findings of a new study of 2,302 volunteers.

But the results, published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine, show that many people given the heart-shocking vest declined to wear it.

Among those who kept it on, their odds of death were 74 percent lower compared to patients who kept in off during the three-month test.

“There seems to be an effect if you wear it, and the effect is pretty large,” chief author Dr. Jeffrey Olgin of the University of California, San Francisco’s Center for the Prevention of Sudden Death told Reuters Health in a telephone interview.

“I think the data, when you look into the details, are not completely negative,” said Dr. Valentina Kutyifa, a professor of medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in a phone interview with Reuters Health. She said because of poor compliance the test raised more questions than it answered.

If a high-risk patient was highly motivated, “we would still offer the wearable cardioverter-defibrillator” despite the official conclusion of the Olgin study, said Dr. Michael Field of the Medical University of South Carolina and Richard Page of the University Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in a Journal editorial.

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