International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care


Clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of implantable cardioverter defibrillators for arrhythmias: A systematic review and economic evaluation

Jackie Bryant a1, Hakan Brodin a1, Emma Loveman a1 and Andrew Clegg a1
a1 University of Southampton


Objectives: The clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) for arrhythmias was assessed.

Methods: A systematic review of the literature of systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials that reported mortality outcomes associated with implantable cardioverter defibrillators compared with antiarrhythmic drug therapy in people at risk of sudden cardiac death due to arrhythmias was undertaken. Economic evaluations were also sought. Inclusion criteria, data extraction, and quality assessment were undertaken by standard methodology. A decision analytic model was constructed using best available evidence to determine cost-effectiveness in a UK setting.

Results: Eight randomized controlled trials, two systematic reviews, and a meta-analysis met the inclusion criteria and were of variable quality. Evidence suggests that ICDs reduce mortality in both secondary and primary prevention, although the magnitude of benefit depends on baseline risk for sudden cardiac death. Incremental cost per quality-adjusted life year ranged from £52,000 ($98,000) to over £200,000 ($379,000), depending on mortality risk and assumptions made.

Conclusions: Evidence suggests that ICDs reduce total mortality but may be cost-effective only in some subgroups of patients at high risk of ventricular arrhythmias. Further research is needed on risk stratification of patients in whom ICDs are most likely to be clinically and cost-effective.

Key Words: Arrhythmia; Heart arrest; Antiarrhythmia agents; Implantable cardioverter defibrillator.