Pacemakers and other devices made by Medtronic and other area medical technology firms may play a role reducing the number of Americans hospitalized with heart failure, but a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found a 30 percent drop in heart failure hospitalizations from 1998 to 2008.
Jersey Chen of the Yale University School of Medicine was the study's lead researcher. He said preventative measures such as addressing high blood pressure and cholesterol appear to be the leading reason for the drop.
"Prevention will reduce the number of people who develop heart failure. But once you have heart failure some patients need devices to feel better," Chen said. "This special type of pacemaker — biventricular pacing — can help a proportion of patients feel better and keep them out of the hospital longer."
The drop reduced Medicare costs by an estimated $4 billion in 2008. Heart failure is one of the most expensive medical conditions to treat, costing the nation an estimated $39 billion last year.