Implantable defibrillator event rates in patients with unexplained syncope and inducible sustained ventricular tachyarrhythmias: A comparison with patients known to have sustained ventricular tachycardia

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To assess the clinical significance of inducible ventricular tachyarrhythmias among patients with unexplained syncope. BACKGROUND: Induction of sustained ventricular arrhythmias at electrophysiology study in patients with unexplained syncope and structural heart disease is usually assigned diagnostic significance. However, the true frequency of subsequent spontaneous ventricular tachyarrhythmias in the absence of antiarrhythmic medications is unknown. METHODS: In a retrospective case-control study, the incidence of implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) therapies for sustained ventricular arrhythmias among patients with unexplained syncope or near syncope (syncope group, n = 22) was compared with that of a control group of patients (n = 32) with clinically documented sustained ventricular tachycardia (VT). Sustained ventricular arrhythmias were inducible in both groups and neither group received antiarrhythmic medications. All ICDs had stored electrograms or RR intervals. Clinical variables were similar between groups except that congestive cardiac failure was more common in the syncope group. RESULTS: Kaplan-Meier analysis of the time to first appropriate ICD therapy for syncope and control groups produced overlapping curves (p = 0.9), with 57 ± 11% and 50 ± 9%, respectively, receiving ICD therapy by one year. In both groups, the induced arrhythmia was significantly faster than spontaneous arrhythmias, but the cycle lengths of induced and spontaneous arrhythmias were positively correlated (R = 0.6, p < 0.0001). During follow- up, three cardiac transplantations and seven deaths occurred in the syncope group, and two transplantations and five deaths occurred in the control group (36-month survival without transplant 52 ± 11% and 83 ± 7%, respectively, p = 0.03). CONCLUSIONS: In patients with unexplained syncope, structural heart disease and inducible sustained ventricular arrhythmias, spontaneous sustained ventricular arrhythmias occur commonly and at a similar rate to patients with documented sustained VT. Thus, electrophysiologic testing in unexplained syncope can identify those at risk of potentially life- threatening tachyarrhythmias, and aggressive treatment of these patients is warranted.

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Andrews, N. P., Fogel, R. I., Pelargonio, G., Evans, J. J., & Prystowsky, E. N. (1999). Implantable defibrillator event rates in patients with unexplained syncope and inducible sustained ventricular tachyarrhythmias: A comparison with patients known to have sustained ventricular tachycardia. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 34(7), 2023–2030. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0735-1097(99)00465-9

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