Wearable automatic defibrillators may be a viable alternative to implantable cardioverter-defibrillators in patients at risk for life threatening heart rhythm abnormalities, according to the American Heart Association.
The AHA said it recently published an advisory on the use of wearable defibs in its journal Circulation.
Light-weight wearable automatic defibrillators are designed to be worn under street clothes and provide constant monitoring of erratic heart rhythms that could result in sudden cardiac death and provides an electric shock to restore rhythm when necessary, the AHA said.
“For many of these patients, the risk for life-threatening rhythm abnormalities may be temporary, so the wearable cardiac defibrillator could be a short-term alternative to an ICD, which is permanently implanted in patient’s chest,” lead author Dr. Jonathan Piccini of Durham, N.C.’s Duke University Medical Center said in a press release.
The advisory is the 1st from the AHA, which said the devices may be beneficial for patients who are not good candidates for ICDs or who are in need of an ICD but may not be able to undergo surgery due to infections or other contraindications.
The AHA said patients waiting for a heart transplant could also be candidates for wearable defibrillators, particularly if the wait until transplant is short.
The AHA warned that there is “very little evidence” to support systematic use of wearable defibs, and said that randomized clinical trials are needed to determine whether the devices lead to improved outcomes.
“Although a growing number of patients are being prescribed wearable cardiac defibrillators by their doctors, there have been very few well-designed and completed studies of these devices. Wide spread use of the wearable defibrillator is not advisable because there isn’t enough clinical evidence to support its use, except in a small number of patients with known life-threatening arrhythmias but for whom surgery to implant an ICD is not advised in the short-term,” Piccini said in prepared remarks.