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ANCHOR LEAD: HOME DEFIBRILLATORS REALLY DON’T SAVE LIVES, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS

Are you considering buying a defibrillator for your home, in case you or a household member has a heart attack?  This is one electronic device you likely don’t need, a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes.  Rick Lange, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins, comments.         

LANGE:  If you use one at home hoping to prevent sudden death then you have to be at home when it happens, there has to be somebody knowledgeable on how to use the device and the sudden death has to be due to an irregular heart rhythm.  And in this study of over 7000 patients that had a previous heart attack, half of whom had a defibrillator placed in their home and the other half who didn’t, those with the defibrillator were no more likely to be alive four or five years down the road than didn’t.  a small number of people had sudden death, a small number happened at home, and only about a third of those was the defibrillator applied.  So all in all, having a defibrillator at home wasn’t particularly useful.                :35   

By contrast, defibrillators in public places are credited with saving many lives each year.  I’m Elizabeth Tracey reporting. 

 


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