Cost-effectiveness of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators

N Engl J Med. 2005 Oct 6;353(14):1471-80. doi: 10.1056/NEJMsa051989.


Background: Eight randomized trials have evaluated whether the prophylactic use of an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) improves survival among patients who are at risk for sudden death due to left ventricular systolic dysfunction but who have not had a life-threatening ventricular arrhythmia. We assessed the cost-effectiveness of the ICD in the populations represented in these primary-prevention trials.

Methods: We developed a Markov model of the cost, quality of life, survival, and incremental cost-effectiveness of the prophylactic implantation of an ICD, as compared with control therapy, among patients with survival and mortality rates similar to those in each of the clinical trials. We modeled the efficacy of the ICD as a reduction in the relative risk of death on the basis of the hazard ratios reported in the individual clinical trials.

Results: Use of the ICD increased lifetime costs in every trial. Two trials--the Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Patch Trial and the Defibrillator in Acute Myocardial Infarction Trial (DINAMIT)--found that the prophylactic implantation of an ICD did not reduce the risk of death and thus was both more expensive and less effective than control therapy. For the other six trials--the Multicenter Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial (MADIT) I, MADIT II, the Multicenter Unsustained Tachycardia Trial (MUSTT), the Defibrillators in Non-Ischemic Cardiomyopathy Treatment Evaluation (DEFINITE) trial, the Comparison of Medical Therapy, Pacing, and Defibrillation in Heart Failure (COMPANION) trial, and the Sudden Cardiac Death in Heart Failure Trial (SCD-HeFT)--the use of an ICD was projected to add between 1.01 and 2.99 quality-adjusted life-years (QALY) and between 68,300 dollars and 101,500 dollars in cost. Using base-case assumptions, we found that the cost-effectiveness of the ICD as compared with control therapy in these six populations ranged from 34,000 dollars to 70,200 dollars per QALY gained. Sensitivity analyses showed that this cost-effectiveness ratio would remain below 100,000 dollars per QALY as long as the ICD reduced mortality for seven or more years.

Conclusions: Prophylactic implantation of an ICD has a cost-effectiveness ratio below 100,000 dollars per QALY gained in populations in which a significant device-related reduction in mortality has been demonstrated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / epidemiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / prevention & control*
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Defibrillators, Implantable / economics*
  • Direct Service Costs*
  • Heart Diseases / economics
  • Heart Diseases / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Markov Chains
  • Mortality
  • Quality of Life
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk
  • Survival Analysis