A study published in Lancet Neurology indicates a respiratory pacemaker designed to assist breathing in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may possibly reduce survival in these patients. For the study, researchers led by Chief Investigator Christopher J McDermott of the University of Sheffield UK, aimed to test whether the respiratory pacemaker was safe and effective when compared to a standard respirator. The research team conducted the study at seven specialist ALS and respiratory centers in the UK.

Participants were diagnosed with ALS and respiratory insufficiency, and the team measured survival in 74 individuals between December 5, 2011 and December 8, 2013, half of who received ventilation via a respirator and half of which received ventilation with the pacemaker device. A total of 28 participants died in the pacemaker group compared to 19 in the ventilation only group.

The researchers write, “Addition of diaphragm pacing to standard care with non-invasive ventilation was associated with decreased survival in patients with ALS. Our results suggest that diaphragmatic pacing should not be used as a routine treatment for patients with ALS in respiratory failure.”

According to ALS News Today, the study seems to indicate that the use of a pacemaker respiratory system decreases survival in individuals with ALS when compared to a conventional respirator. The researchers note the limitations of the study, which included the need for surgery in the group receiving the pacemaker.

The researchers further suggest that it is possible that some specific individuals may benefit from the pacemaker, but overall pacemakers should not be recommended or become a standard use in people with ALS and respiratory problems.

Source: ALS News Today