Medtronic has released Virtual ICD study data that predicted 98% of studied implantable defibrillator patients would be free of inappropriate shocks one year after implant and 92% at five years post-implant. The findings were released during Heart Rhythm 2010, the Heart Rhythm Society’s 31st Annual Scientific Sessions.

The Virtual ICD study used a statistical model that predicts that six advanced shock-reduction algorithms for implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) and cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillators (CRT-Ds) can reduce inappropriate shocks experienced by patients. The results were significant.

Medtronic said that the ICDs and CRT-Ds are designed to provide painless pacing or life-saving shock therapy to stop fast or irregular heart beats, also known as ventricular arrhythmias, which can lead to sudden cardiac death. Sudden cardiac death kills more people each year than lung cancer, breast cancer and HIV/AIDS combined.

Medtronic estimates that more than 70,000 lives have been saved by implantable defibrillators during the last five years. While the majority of lifesaving shocks are appropriate, studies estimate that approximately 20% of patients with implantable defibrillators may experience inappropriate shocks within 2.5 years in response to a non-lethal arrhythmia or electrical noise within the device system.

Data outlining the need for advanced shock reduction technology to reduce inappropriate shocks are expected to be released at Heart Rhythm 2010. Data on the impact of inappropriate shocks on health care utilisation and the adoption rate of device programming strategies aimed at reducing shocks also are expected to be released.

Kent Volosin, cardiologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, said: “Among implanting physicians, shock reduction is a top priority. This evidence demonstrates that these advanced shock-reduction technologies could help physicians dramatically reduce inappropriate shocks.”