The use of advance directives among patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators

Tanya H. Tajouri, Abigale L. Ottenberg, David L. Hayes, Paul S. Mueller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

32 Scopus citations


Background: We aimed to determine the prevalence of advance directives (ADs) among patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) and of ADs that addressed ICD management at the end of life. Methods: The medical records of all patients who underwent ICD implantation during 2007 at a single institution were reviewed retrospectively to determine the number of patients with an AD and the number of ADs mentioning the ICD specifically (i.e. ICD management at end of life). Results: During 2007, 420 patients (males, 71%) underwent ICD implantation at our institution (mean age [range] at implantation, 63 [1-90] years). Primary prevention was the most common indication for device therapy (254 patients [61%]). Overall, 127 patients (30%) had an AD, with 83 ADs (65%) completed more than 12 months before ICD implantation and 10 (8%) completed after it. Several life-sustaining treatments were mentioned in the ADs: tube feeding, 46 (37%); cardiopulmonary resuscitation, 25 (20%); mechanical ventilation, 22 (17%); and hemodialysis, nine (7%). Pain control was mentioned in 58 ADs (46%) and comfort measures in 38 (30%). However, only two ADs (2%) mentioned the ICD or its deactivation at end of life. Conclusions: About one-third of patients with ICDs had an AD, but only a couple ADs mentioned the ICD. These results suggest that clinicians should not only encourage patients with ICDs to complete an AD, but also encourage them to address ICD management specifically. Not addressing ICD management in an AD may result in ethical dilemmas during end-of-life care. (PACE 2012; xx; 1-7)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-573
Number of pages7
JournalPACE - Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2012



  • advance directives
  • end-of-life care
  • ethics
  • implantable defibrillators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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