Implantable cardioverter defibrillators. Prophylactic use: an evidence-based analysis.Ont Health Technol Assess Ser. 2005; 5(14):1-74.OH
The use of implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) to prevent sudden cardiac death (SCD) in patients resuscitated from cardiac arrest or documented dangerous ventricular arrhythmias (secondary prevention of SCD) is an insured service. In 2003 (before the establishment of the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee), the Medical Advisory Secretariat conducted a health technology policy assessment on the prophylactic use (primary prevention of SCD) of ICDs for patients at high risk of SCD. The Medical Advisory Secretariat concluded that ICDs are effective for the primary prevention of SCD. Moreover, it found that a more clearly defined target population at risk for SCD that would be likely to benefit from ICDs is needed, given that the number needed to treat (NNT) from recent studies is 13 to 18, and given that the per-unit cost of ICDs is $32,000, which means that the projected cost to Ontario is $770 million (Cdn). Accordingly, as part of an annual review and publication of more recent articles, the Medical Advisory Secretariat updated its health technology policy assessment of ICDs.
SUDDEN CARDIAC DEATH IS CAUSED BY THE SUDDEN ONSET OF FATAL ARRHYTHMIAS, OR ABNORMAL HEART RHYTHMS: ventricular tachycardia (VT), a rhythm abnormality in which the ventricles cause the heart to beat too fast, and ventricular fibrillation (VF), an abnormal, rapid and erratic heart rhythm. About 80% of fatal arrhythmias are associated with ischemic heart disease, which is caused by insufficient blood flow to the heart. Management of VT and VF with antiarrhythmic drugs is not very effective; for this reason, nonpharmacological treatments have been explored. One such treatment is the ICD.
An ICD is a battery-powered device that, once implanted, monitors heart rhythm and can deliver an electric shock to restore normal rhythm when potentially fatal arrhythmias are detected. The use of ICDs to prevent SCD in patients resuscitated from cardiac arrest or documented dangerous ventricular arrhythmias (secondary prevention) is an insured service in Ontario. Primary prevention of SCD involves identification of and preventive therapy for patients who are at high risk for SCD. Most of the studies in the literature that have examined the prevention of fatal ventricular arrhythmias have focused on patients with ischemic heart disease, in particular, those with heart failure (HF), which has been shown to increase the risk of SCD. The risk of HF is determined by left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF); most studies have focused on patients with an LVEF under 0.35 or 0.30. While most studies have found ICDs to reduce significantly the risk for SCD in patients with an LVEF less than 0.35, a more recent study (Sudden Cardiac Death in Heart Failure Trial [SCD-HeFT]) reported that patients with HF with nonischemic heart disease could also benefit from this technology. Based on the generalization of the SCD-HeFT study, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid in the United States recently announced that it would allocate $10 billion (US) annually toward the primary prevention of SCD for patients with ischemic and nonischemic heart disease and an LVEF under 0.35.
The aim of this literature review was to assess the effectiveness, safety, and cost effectiveness of ICDs for the primary prevention of SCD. The standard search strategy used by the Medical Advisory Secretariat was used. This included a search of all international health technology assessments as well as a search of the medical literature from January 2003-May 2005. A modification of the GRADE approach (1) was used to make judgments about the quality of evidence and strength of recommendations systematically and explicitly. GRADE provides a framework for structured reflection and can help to ensure that appropriate judgments are made. GRADE takes into account a study's design, quality, consistency, and directness in judging the quality of evidence for each outcome. The balance between benefits and harms, quality of evidence, applicability, and the certainty of the baseline risks are considered in judgments about the strength of recommendations.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
Overall, ICDs are effective for the primary prevention of SCD. Three studies - the Multicentre Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial I (MADIT I), the Multicentre Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial II (MADIT II), and SCD-HeFT - showed there was a statistically significant decrease in total mortality for patients who prophylactically received an ICD compared with those who received conventional therapy (Table 1). Table 1:Results of Key Studies on the Use of Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators for the Primary Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death - All-Cause MortalityStudy, * YearPopulationNFollow-up, MonthsMortality, ICD† Group, %Mortality, Control Group, %Hazard Ratio (95% CI)PNNT†MADIT, 1996 (2)Ischemic1962715.838.60.46 (0.26-0.82).0094PriormyocardialinfarctionConventional therapy54% relative reductionEjection fraction ≤ 0.35NSVT†EP† +MADIT II, 2002 (3)Ischemic12322014.219.80.69(0.51-0.93).01618PriormyocardialinfarctionConventional therapy31% relative reductionEjection fraction ≤ 0.30SCD-HeFT, 2005 (4)Ischemic & Nonischemic25216022290.77 (0.62-0.96).00713Optimal therapyEjection fraction < 0.3523% relative reduction*MADIT I: Multicentre Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial I; MADIT II: Multicentre Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial II; SCD-HeFT: Sudden Cardiac Death in Heart Failure Trial.†EP indicates electrophysiology; ICD, implantable cardioverter defibrillator; NNT, number needed to treat; NSVT, nonsustained ventricular tachycardia. The NNT will appear higher if follow-up is short. For ICDs, the absolute benefit increases over time for at least a 5-year period; the NNT declines, often substantially, in studies with a longer follow-up. When the NNT are equalized for a similar period as the SCD-HeFT duration (5 years), the NNT for MADIT-I is 2.2; for MADIT-II, it is 6.3.
GRADE QUALITY OF THE EVIDENCE
Using the GRADE Working Group criteria, the quality of these 3 trials was examined (Table 2). Quality refers to the criteria such as the adequacy of allocation concealment, blinding and follow-up. Consistency refers to the similarity of estimates of effect across studies. If there is important unexplained inconsistency in the results, our confidence in the estimate of effect for that outcome decreases. Differences in the direction of effect, the size of the differences in effect, and the significance of the differences guide the decision about whether important inconsistency exists. Directness refers to the extent to which the people interventions and outcome measures are similar to those of interest. For example, there may be uncertainty about the directness of the evidence if the people of interest are older, sicker or have more comorbidity than those in the studies. As stated by the GRADE Working Group, the following definitions were used to grade the quality of the evidence: HIGH: Further research is very unlikely to change our confidence n the estimate of effect.MODERATE: Further research is likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and may change the estimate.LOW: Further research is very likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and is likely to change the estimate.VERY LOW: Any estimate of effect is very uncertain.Table 2:Quality of Evidence - MADIT I, MADIT II, and SCD-HeFT*TrialDesignQualityConsistencyDirectness†Quality GradeMADIT IRCTImbalance in β-blocker usage between study arms.The overall number of patients from which the study was drawn was not reported.Selection bias may have occurred since patients were selected for randomization if they did not respond to procainamide, thereby introducing a potential bias into the medication arm.Specific details regarding allocation concealment and blinding procedures were not provided.Single-chamber ICD used in study.Trial started with transthoracic implants, and then switched to nontransthoracic implants.Ischemic cardiomyopathy only.5-year NNT = 2.The overall number of Moderate patients from which the study was drawn was not reported.Selection bias may have occurred since patients were selected for randomization if they did not respond to procainamide, thereby introducing a potential bias into the medication arm.ModerateMADIT IIRCT~ 90% of patients were recruited ≥6 months post-MI; 20% of control group died after mean 20-month follow-up.How and where patients recruited?Specific details regarding allocation concealment/blinding procedures not provided.Subset had MADIT I criteria; post hoc analysis of incomplete data suggested "weak-moderate evidence that ICD effect greater in inducible than noninducible patients in MADIT II." (5;6)First study to assess both single- and dual-chamber ICD devices for primary prevention.Programming of device and medications left to the discretion of the patients' physician.Higher rate of hospitalization for new or worsened heart failure in the group receiving the ICDs compared to conventional therapy (19.9% versus 14.9% respectively).Ischemic cardiomyopathy only.5-year NNT = 6.How and where patients Weak recruited?Subset had MADIT I criteria.WeakSCD-HeFTRCTStatistically significant difference in β-blocker usage between treatment groups at last follow-up.Drug arms double-blinded.Shock-only single-lead device. Antitachycardia pacing not permitted.Ischemic and nonischemic cardiomyopathy.There was a statistically significant difference in terms of the NYHA prespecified subgroups analysis. The NYHA subgroups were prespecified a priori and the results of the interaction tests were significant. Yet, ICD treatment had a significant benefit in patients in NYHA class II but not in those in NYHA class III. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED)