HRS2017: Wearable defibrillators are safe, effective for pediatric patients

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A new study from Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital has found that the use of a wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD) is safe and effective for treating ventricular arrhythmias in pediatric patients at risk from sudden cardiac death.

The research, presented May 11 at the annual Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) conference in Chicago, represents the largest pediatric patient population that has been tested with WCDs as a treatment option, according to an HRS press release.

To treat sudden cardiac death, physicians have long used implantable cardioverter defibrillators, but they involve an invasive procedure, which is not always ideal for young patients. A WCD, however, is worn outside the body and requires no surgical procedure.

The study involved more than 450 U.S. pediatric patients who wore a WCD for at least one day. The study spanned from Dec. 31, 2009, to Sept. 14, 2016. Patients were about 15 years old and the median duration of WCD use was 33 days.

The researchers used clinical indication and diagnosis from ICD-9/10 codes to record data. The most common pre-existing cardiac conditions patients had included cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, ventricular arrhythmias and a history of prior cardiac arrest.

Results showed that individuals in a pediatric population wearing WCDS were positive. Patients were treated accordingly when a device notified them that they were having a cardiac event. No patients died while wearing a WCD.

“Research about wearable defibrillators in the pediatric population is very limited, so the results of this study are encouraging. In this large group of patients, we found that the therapy is safe,” said lead author David Spar, MD, assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, in a statement. “The results are comparable to that of the adult population who use wearable defibrillators and provides reassurance that we can consider this to be an effective therapy enabling young patients to leave the hospital and return to their daily activities.”