Baptist Launches Cardiologist's Video Interview on Preventing Sudden Cardiac Death

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Medicare expands reimbursement for implanted defibrillators. Cardiologist Drew Pickett, MD discusses the treatment for sudden cardiac death.

Electrophysiology is a subsection of cardiology focusing on treating heart arrhythmias and the prevention of sudden cardiac death

Baptist Cardiovascular Services launches a video interview with Cardiac Electrophysiologist Drew Pickett, M.D. He discusses how implanting a defibrillator can help reduce sudden cardiac death. Also, Dr. Pickett talks about the SCD-HeFT Trial (pronounced scud heft), which is the most recent and largest clinical study to decide who benefits from a defibrillator.

Hundreds of Thousands of heart patients are now eligible to receive an implanted defibrillator, and Medicare has decided to cover the cost. Results from a "landmark" clinical study by the National Institutes of Health provided evidence that patients with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) have reduce mortality. The January 20, 2005 issue of The New England Journal featured results from the Sudden Cardiac Death in Heart Failure Trial (SCD - HeFT) showing a 23 percent reduction in death among trial participants with an ICD compared to those who did not receive defibrillators.

The SCD-HeFT findings show that ICDs used preventively in people with heart failure and poor heart pumping function has the potential to save more than 350,000 lives annually. SCD-HeFT is the latest in a series of major medical studies demonstrating the life-saving benefits of ICDs. The results reinforce evidence from earlier trials. Officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended reimbursement to Medicare patients eligible for ICD therapy based on the SCD-HeFT clinical study results.

Baptist Medical Center Cardiologists Robert Andrew Pickett, M.D, Douglas Wolfe, M.D. are two of only seven board certified electrophysiologists in Mississippi helping get patient's hearts back in rhythm. Dr. Earl Fyke, a cardiologist in Jackson, Miss., in conjunction with Drs. Pickett and Wolf is also working to reduce mortality in patients at risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

"Electrophysiology is a subsection of cardiology focusing on treating heart arrhythmias and the prevention of sudden cardiac death," said Dr. Pickett. "We are treating the cause rather than just the symptoms. Rapid advances in technology are helping us get ahead of the curve."

ICDs are pager-sized devices implanted under the skin near the collarbone and connected to the heart with insulated leads. ICD's deliver therapies that pace a fast heart into normal rhythm, or deliver a forceful burst of energy that shocks an uncontrollable racing heart back into normal rhythm. Dr. Pickett noted "that no drug has ever been shown to prevent sudden death better than defibrillators".

Funded by manufacturer Medtronic Inc. and drug maker Wyeth, the study indicates that ICDs are a cost-effective therapy in this heart failure population and reinforces the fact that defibrillation is the only treatment that can stop a life-threatening heart rhythm once it occurs.

In the United States, approximately 450,000 people die each year from sudden cardiac arrest. It's a sudden, abrupt loss of heart function often caused by a rapid, chaotic heart rhythm disturbance. People at most risk of suffering sudden cardiac arrest are heart attack survivors and heart failure patients.

Baptist Cardiovascular Services is a division of Baptist Medical Center in Jackson, Miss. For more information call the Baptist Health Line at 1-800-948-6262 or visit http://www.mbhs.org/med_serv/heart/index.htm.

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Robby Channell
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