Study Objective: To assess survival after insertion of automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillators in high-risk patients who have malignant ventricular arrhythmias and left ventricular dysfunction.
Design: Actual survival time compared with arrhythmia-free time in a single group of patients.
Setting: Inpatient services of a tertiary referral center and outpatient follow-up.
Patients: Seventy consecutive patients with clinical sustained ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation whose arrhythmia could not be controlled by medication as determined by programmed electrical stimulation, and who had an automatic cardioverter defibrillator implanted.
Intervention: All patients received an implantable defibrillator.
Measurements and Main Results: Two-year survival was 93.4% (95% CI, 87 to 99.8) and projected survival based on recurrence of malignant arrhythmias was 60.3% (CI, 47.3 to 73.3; P < 0.001). In the 25 patients with left ventricular ejection fraction less than 30%, actual survival was 86.7% (CI, 72.3 to 91.1) and projected survival was 56.9% (CI, 35.9 to 77.9; P = 0.025). Projected survival percentages are similar to survival figures reported in the literature for such high-risk patients. There was only one sudden death; the remaining deaths were not arrhythmic in nature. Of the 65 patients who were alive at the end of follow-up, 13 were in New York Heart Association Class I; 44, Class II; 5, Class III; and 3, Class IV.
Conclusions: The automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator is probably highly effective in preventing arrhythmic mortality even in high-risk patients. Such treatment does not appear to significantly impair a patient's functional status.