Shares of medical device major Medtronic Inc. ( MDT ) rallied 1.4% since the company announced favorable results pertaining to the company's implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) and its pacemaker at the Heart Rhythm Society.
At a late-breaking clinical trial session, Medtronic revealed that ICDs can safely extend detection times before triggering therapy in secondary prevention patients (those who are at higher risk of deadly irregular heart rhythm and have already experienced an episode of sudden cardiac arrest).
As per the PainFree SST sub-study, Protecta ICDs with SmartShock Technology can be programmed with delayed detection interval settings without compromising on the safety of high-risk patients. SmartShock Technology is a shock reduction algorithm which helps the device to better differentiate between dangerous and harmless heart rhythms.
According to the company, earlier studies on prolonged interval detection used to focus on primary prevention patients (those who have not experienced an episode of sudden cardiac arrest but are at risk of the same). It was detected that devices programmed to wait longer to deliver therapy did not increase the risk of fainting episodes among such patients. The study reveals that the same strategy can be applied on secondary prevention patients after one year of follow-up.
In another late-breaking clinical trial session at the Heart Rhythm Society, Medtronic disclosed favorable data which validated that the company's pacemakers with advanced features considerably delay the progression of persistent atrial fibrillation (AF) in patients with bradycardia or slow heartbeat.
The outcome of the study named as MINERVA ( MIN imiz E R ight V entricular pacing to prevent A trial fibrillation and heart failure ) revealed that compared to standard pacemakers, the Reactive ATP algorithm reduced the development of persistent AF by 58%.
The Reactive ATP algorithm restores the heart back to its normal rhythm by pacing during abnormally fast atrial rhythms. Accordingly, it plays a key role in slowing the progression of the disease by successfully terminating atrial tachycardia/atrial fibrillation episodes. According to the company, this outcome will act as a major breakthrough as at present, atrial fibrillation is one of the most common and expensive-to-treat diseases, putting patients worldwide at a higher risk of heart failure, stroke and death.
MINERVA, which was recently published online in the European Heart Journal , is the first study to find that the full suite of Medtronic advanced pacing features delays the progression of permanent AF.
Amid several core market challenges including the still-sluggish Cardiac Rhythm Disease Management (CRDM) sales with poor ICD and pacing revenues, Medtronic is trying every means to boost growth. This includes expansion of portfolio, penetration into the international markets, and restructuring initiatives, which should benefit the company over the long term.
Meanwhile, Medtronic has increased its focus on emerging markets and is targeting higher revenues from this region. The company is also committed to its aim of returning 50% of its free cash flow to its shareholders, along with undertaking suitable acquisitions, to augment growth.
Other Stocks to Consider
While Medtronic carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), other stocks worth considering in the medical products sector are Baxano Surgical, Inc. ( BAXS ), Enzymotec Ltd. ( ENZY ) and ICU Medical, Inc. ( ICUI ). All these stocks bear a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).