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SCIENCE FILE | Science in Brief

Implantable Defibrillators Shown as Beneficial to Heart Patients

December 26, 1996|From Times staff reports

Implantable defibrillators implanted protectively in selected high-risk heart attack survivors increase two-year survival by 54% compared to conventional drug therapy, a multi-center team reports in the Dec. 26 New England Journal of Medicine. The defibrillators reverse life-threatening arrhythmias, and the team projected that as many as 80,000 high-risk heart attack patients annually--one in every 10 heart attack victims--could benefit from the treatment.

The defibrillators monitor the heart's electrical activity and deliver corrective electrical impulses when an irregularly fast or chaotic heartbeat is detected.

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