Doctor hopes to make decision making easier for some heart patients

May 4, 2009

Having a device implanted in your body to prevent sudden cardiac death can be a tough decision for patients.  A University of Colorado Denver doctor wants to create some peace of mind during that process by offering patients a way to evaluate the risks and benefits of an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.  It’s the creation of this decision-making tool that has led Daniel Matlock, MD, to be named a 2009 Hartford Geriatrics Health Outcomes Research Scholar by the John A. Hartford Foundation and the American Geriatrics Society’s Foundation for Health in Aging.

Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillators (ICDs) have been shown to prevent death in a significant number of patients at risk of sudden cardiac death. However, among other things, they have been linked to increased heart failure admissions, anxiety, and depression, and can deliver inappropriate shocks. The advantages and disadvantages of ICDs make informed decision making essential. The ICD decision quality instrument Dr. Matlock will develop will measure the quality of ICD decision making among elderly and chronically ill patients.

The Hartford Geriatrics Health Outcomes Research Scholars Awards provides $200,000 in salary and research support over the course of two years. The awards go to physician-scientists committed to improving health care for older adults while making the critical transition from junior faculty to independent researcher.

Sponsored and funded by the AGS’ Foundation for Health in Aging and The John A. Hartford Foundation, the health outcomes awards aim to improve the quality and value of care for older adults by supporting research examining how disease, injury, diagnosis, clinical strategies, treatment, health policy, health services utilization, and related factors affect the health, functional status, and health-related quality of life of older people.