April 15, 1997 in Nation/World

Heart Device Called Superior To Drugs

Washington Post

Researchers have halted a large study that compared commonly prescribed heart drugs to an implantable device that corrects abnormal heart rhythms, saying the electrical device is clearly superior and people taking the medicines should consider switching to the device.

The three-year study, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, was the first to compare the two most popular approaches to treating abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias, which cause an estimated 350,000 deaths every year in the United States.

Doctors said that patients taking the medicines - amiodarone (Cordarone) or sotalol (Betapace) - should not stop taking the drugs but should talk to their doctors about switching to the device, called an implantable cardiac defibrillator.

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