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Details for: CMS ANNOUNCES NATIONAL COVERAGE OF MICROVOLT T-WAVE ALTERNANS DIAGNOSTIC TESTING



For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Contact: CMS Media Relations
202-690-6145


CMS ANNOUNCES NATIONAL COVERAGE OF MICROVOLT T-WAVE ALTERNANS DIAGNOSTIC TESTING

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today it intends to cover microvolt T-wave alternans (MTWA) diagnostic testing for Medicare beneficiaries.

This final national coverage determination provides an additional diagnostic tool for physicians to consider, along with their optimal clinical judgment, when managing patients who are at risk from sudden cardiac death from life-threatening irregular heartbeats.

“We are expanding Medicare’s coverage for a diagnostic tool that can help identify patients at risk for potentially fatal heart rhythm problems,” said CMS Administrator Mark McClellan, MD, PhD.  “By expanding access to MTWA, we are making it possible to improve treatment decisions and so improve the health of many Medicare beneficiaries.”

MTWA is a non-invasive diagnostic test that detects minute electrical activity in EKG T-wave.   The test is performed by placing electrodes on a patient’s chest prior to a period of controlled exercise.    The electrodes detect microvolt beat-to-beat changes in T-wave. Software then analyzes these microvolt changes and produces a report to be interpreted by a physician.

Within patient groups that may be considered candidates for implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) therapy, a negative MTWA test may be useful in identifying low-risk patients who are unlikely to benefit from, and who may experience worse outcomes from, ICD placement.

The final decision was published March 21, 2006 on the CMS Web Site at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/mcd/viewdecisionmemo.asp?id=165


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