"Expanded indications for implantable defibrillators"

So reads the headline on a magazine I received recently (along with thousands of my colleagues) from a major hospital system.

It goes on to say: "In January 2005, indications for implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) were substantially broadened [emphasis ours] to include most patients with a left ventricular ejection fraction (EF) of 35% or less. This change translates into a 2- to 3-fold increase in the number of Medicare beneficiariries eligible for ICDs."

Ka-ching!!! Hear the money piling up in the bank?

The device manufacturers are constantly churning data and lobbying for reimbursement to expand the use of their devices to more and more people. Defibrillators in particularly are generally a $25,000 to $50,000 opportunity for the device manufacturer alone, not counting the costs incurred at the hospital for implantation.

Beware. As reimbursement for stents and other procedures diminishes, expect a sudden "demand" for more and more people to get implantable defibrillators. Better yet, stay away from the whole issue by preventing your heart attack.