Cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs), such as pacemakers and implantable defibrillators, save and extend lives. They are amazingly reliable and effective, but even the best tool comes with risks. As many as 1 in 20 patients with a CIED develops an infection within three years of implantation.
The science is clear about what to do: Patients with a CIED infection should be referred to a specialist with expertise in device extraction, and the CIED and all its components should be removed. This recommendation is supported by the American Heart Association, Heart Rhythm Society, British Heart Rhythm Society, European Society of Cardiology, and European Heart Rhythm Association. But despite the recommendations, many patients with CIED infection do not undergo complete system removal. Failure to remove the device is a life-or-death decision.
The AHA National CIED Infection Initiative seeks to address the gaps in awareness, detection, and appropriate treatment of cardiovascular implantable electronic device infection through a two-year initiative including a National CIED Infection Summit and National Quality Education Plan.