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Arrhythmias and sudden death in heart failure

, : Arrhythmias and sudden death in heart failure. Japanese Circulation Journal 61(9): 727-740

Survival of patients with heart failure has improved over the past decade due to advances in medical therapy. Sudden death continues to cause 20 to 50% of deaths. Ventricular arrhythmias are common in patients with heart failure. Ventricular hypertrophy, scars from prior myocardial infarction, sympathetic activation, and electrolyte abnormalities contribute. Some sudden deaths are due to bradyarrhythmias and electromechanical dissociation rather than ventricular arrhythmias. The risks and benefits of antiarrhythmic therapies continue to be defined. Class I antiarrhythmic drugs should be avoided due to proarrhythmic and negative inotropic effects that may increase mortality. For patients resuscitated from sustained ventricular tachycardia (VT) or ventricular fibrillation (VF) amiodarone or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) should be considered. ICDs markedly reduce sudden death in VT/VF survivors, but in advanced heart failure, this may not markedly extend survival. Catheter or surgical ablation can be considered for selected patients with bundle branch reentry VT or difficult to control monomorphic VT. For patients who have not had sustained VT/VF antiarrhythmic therapy should generally be avoided, but may benefit some high risk patients. Amiodarone may be beneficial in patients with advanced heart failure and rapid resting heart rates. ICDs may improve survival in selected survivors of myocardial infarction who have inducible VT.


PMID: 9293402

DOI: 10.1253/jcj.61.727

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