Medtronic's tech halves atrial fibrillation risk

Medtronic's Viva device reduced patients' atrial fibrillation risk by 46% in a study.--Courtesy of Medtronic

Heart failure patients treated with a Medtronic ($MDT) defibrillator were roughly half as likely to endure atrial fibrillation than were those using other devices, according to a study.

In a 522-patient trial, Medtronic compared Viva cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillators to standard CRT-Ds, finding that patients using its devices were at a 46% lower risk of prolonged heartbeat irregularity and needed 34% less right ventricular pacing than the control group.

Medtronic credits its proprietary algorithm for the difference. Dubbed AdaptivCRT, Medtronic's pacing system reads a patient's natural heart rhythm to continuously adjust therapy. That means more effective treatment and lower rates of worsening conditions, the company said, and Medtronic projects that AdaptivCRT can reduce first-year hospitalizations by 21% in heart failure patients.

That dovetails with Medtronic's of-late party line, making devices not just safe and efficacious but also cost-effective for healthcare systems. In the study's accompanying news release, Medtronic began its explanation of atrial fibrillation by saying it's "associated with increased healthcare utilization," and Cardiac Rhythm Disease Management Medical Director David Steinhaus even has a market in mind.

"The results of the AdaptivCRT trial will be significant as the baby boomer population ages and becomes more vulnerable to heart failure and associated conditions such as atrial fibrillation," Steinhaus said in a statement.

Whether all that translates into sales growth remains to be seen. Last quarter, Medtronic's CRM business stayed flat at $1.2 billion, as ICD sales lagged 2% and pacemaker revenue jumped 6%.

Medtronic won a CE mark for Viva last year and picked up FDA approval in May, launching the device around the world thereafter. The company revealed its latest results at today's Heart Failure Society of America conference in Orlando.

- read Medtronic's release

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