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New primary prevention trials of sudden cardiac death in patients with left ventricular dysfunction: SCD-HEFT and MADIT-II.

Primary prevention of sudden arrhythmic death in patients with organic heart disease with poor left ventricular function and/or heart failure is currently a major challenge in cardiology. Amiodarone (with or without beta blockers) and the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) are considered the 2 major therapeutic tools to prevent sudden arrhythmic death in these patients. Two large trials have been launched to define the prophylactic benefit of the ICD or amiodarone on total mortality in patients that receive optimal heart failure and anti-ischemic treatment but remain at high risk of dying suddenly. The Sudden Cardiac Death in Heart Failure Trial (SCD-Heft) is designed to determine whether amiodarone or the ICD will decrease overall mortality in patients with coronary artery disease or nonischemic cardiomyopathy who are in heart failure New York Heart Association (NYHA) class II or III and have a left ventricular ejection fraction < 35%. The primary endpoint is total mortality; secondary objectives are comparison of arrhythmic and nonarrhythmic mortality and morbidity in the 3 arms as well as quality of life, cost-effectiveness, and incidence of episodes of ventricular tachyarrhythmias. The Multicenter Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial (MADIT) II is a follow-up study to the MADIT trial. It examines the prophylactic benefit in coronary artery disease patients with a left ventricular ejection fraction of < 30%, who have had at least 1 myocardial infarction but require no further risk stratification. MADIT II is a sequential design trial that compares ICD versus no ICD therapy. Programmed electrical stimulation to test inducibility of ventricular tachycardia is performed during ICD implantation, and various noninvasive risk markers are tested after randomization. Primary endpoint is total mortality, and secondary objectives are quality-of-life issues as well as cost-effectiveness ratio.

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