Cost-Effectiveness of Implanted Defibrillators in Young People with Inherited Cardiac Arrhythmias


Address for reprints: Ilan Goldenberg, M.D., Heart Research Follow-up Program, Box 653, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642. E-mail:


Background: The implanted cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) has been shown to improve survival in adult patients with high risk acquired cardiac disease, with a cost-effectiveness ratio in the range of $30,000 to $185,000 per quality-adjusted-life-year saved. However, data on the benefit and cost-effectiveness of device therapy in high-risk patients with inherited cardiac disorders are limited.

Methods: We developed two separate computer-based analytical models to compare non-ICD with ICD therapy in patients (age range: 10–75 years) with long QT syndrome (LQTS) and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). In each disease entity patients were stratified into low-risk (no known risk factors); high-risk (known risk factors [primary prevention]); and very high-risk (prior near-fatal events [secondary prevention]). Net costs were defined as the difference between costs resulting from treatment of the disease and savings due to gained productivity attributable to prevention of sudden cardiac death. Outcome was defined as costs per quality-adjusted life-years saved.

Results: In LQTS, defibrillator therapy was shown to be cost effective in high-risk male patients (incremental cost-effectiveness ratio [ICER]=$3328 per quality-adjusted-life-year saved), and cost saving in high-risk females (ICER =$7102 gained per quality-adjusted-life-year saved) and very high-risk males and females (ICER =$15,483 and 19,393 gained per quality-adjusted-life-year saved, respectively). In HCM, defibrillator therapy was cost saving in both male and female high-risk (ICER =$17,892 and $17,526 gained per quality-adjusted-life-year saved, respectively) and very high-risk (ICER =$22,944 and $22,329 gained per quality-adjusted-life-year saved, respectively) patients. Defibrillator therapy was not shown to be cost effective in low-risk patients with either LQTS or HCM (ICER in the range of $400,000 to $600,000 lost per quality-adjusted-life-year saved). Sensitivity analyses were consistent with the results in each risk group.

Conclusions: In appropriately selected patients with inherited cardiac disorders, early intervention with ICD therapy is cost-effective to cost saving due to added years of gained productivity when the lifespan of an individual at risk is considered.