Sep 26, 2012 2:00 PM by Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder are common among people with implanted heart defibrillators, but improved patient education and ongoing psychological support can help them cope.
That's the message in a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association.
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) restores normal heart rhythm and prevents sudden cardiac death.
"A shock from an ICD can be lifesaving, but it can also affect a person's quality of life and psychological state," statement writing group chair Sandra Dunbar said in an AHA news release. "It's important to look at this issue now because 10,000 people have an ICD implanted each month. They range from older people with severe heart failure to healthy children who have a gene that increases the risk of sudden cardiac arrest."
Before they receive an implantable defibrillator, patients should be provided with clear information about the benefits and limitations of the device, their prognosis, and the impact it will have on their lifestyle, including activity and work, the statement recommends.
Patients with implantable defibrillators should undergo regular screening and receive appropriate treatment for anxiety, depression and PTSD.
The statement recommends that doctors and nurses should:
"Experiencing a shock is distressing and patients have a wide variety of responses," Dunbar said. "Some find it very reassuring that it's working, while others find the actual physical sensations frightening and overwhelming. That's why we suggest that clinicians provide an ongoing assessment of ICD patients' psychological needs."
The statement was published in the Sept. 24 issue of the journal Circulation.
The Heart Rhythm Society has more about implantable cardioverter defibrillators.