-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- People with an implantable
cardiac defibrillator and a breathing disorder that occurs during
sleep are at greater risk for potentially deadly heart problems
during the night, new research suggests.
An implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) is a device that
monitors heart rhythm and corrects an abnormal heartbeat with an
electrical shock. The new study revealed a significant increase in
cases of ventricular tachycardia (a dangerous rapid heartbeat) and
ventricular fibrillation (a severely abnormal heart rhythm) among
patients with ICDs who also were diagnosed with sleep-disordered
In the study, published in the May issue of the journal
HeartRhythm, researchers in Israel analyzed 45 patients with ICDs in an overnight sleep study and followed them over the course of one year.
Twenty-six of the study participants (57.8 percent) had
sleep-disordered breathing, and these patients were more likely to
receive what the researchers call "appropriate ICD therapy" -- a
shock to correct the heart rhythm.
The risk for ventricular arrhythmias was higher between midnight
and 6 a.m. among patients with sleep-disordered breathing, the
results showed. The researchers concluded that patients with an ICD
who experience nighttime arrhythmias should undergo screening for
"Currently, there is limited data available with regard to the predictors of fatal arrhythmias in patients with an ICD," study author Dr. Tawfig Zeidan-Shwiri, of Ramban Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, said in a news release from the Heart Rhythm Society.
"Our study sought to find specific clinical data to help improve the safety and quality of life of patients living with an ICD, and the results indicate that the presence of sleep-disordered breathing should be considered in all patients with appropriate ICD therapy," Zeidan-Shwiri added. "However, more studies are needed to assess whether treatment of sleep-disordered breathing reduces the risk of appropriate ICD therapy."
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more information on
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