[14-year experience with implantable cardioverter/defibrillators: determination of prognosis and discharge behavior]

E G Vester, H Dees, I Dobran, M Hennersdorf, C Perings, M Heydthausen, J Winter, B E Strauer
Zeitschrift Für Kardiologie 2000, 89: 194-205

BACKGROUND: The treatment of life threatening ventricular arrhythmias with implantable cardioverter/defibrillators (ICD) has become the therapy of choice; the survival benefit of ICD treatment compared to drug therapy in patients with aborted sudden cardiac death (SCD) and hemodynamically unstable ventricular tachycardia has been proven. In addition for the primary prevention of SCD in high risk patients, ICD therapy is gaining growing acceptance.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: We analyzed the long-term follow-up of 274 consecutive patients (211 male, 63 female, age 59 +/- 12 years, left ventricular ejection fraction 39 +/- 15%) provided with an ICD between 1984 and 1998. The aim of the study was to ascertain the survival rate in different subgroups and to discover determining factors of ICD discharge and prognosis.

RESULTS: Long-term survival probability at 10 resp. 14 years was 84 resp. 65% for the total collective, and the freedom of event probability (neither shocks nor antitachycardiac pacing from the ICD) to 28% each. The risk to die from SCD was below 3% over time. The most pronounced differences regarding prognosis ensued from dividing the collective into heart insufficiency stages. Thus in NYHA class I and II versus III and IV, the cumulative event rate was 61% vs 82% at 5 years, and survival rate amounted to 94 vs 63% at 5 years and 87% vs 30% at 14 years (p < 0.001). Calculating the relative benefit of ICD therapy survival benefit provided by the ICD was shown to decrease significantly after 5 years for patients in NYHA class III/IV, while it increased progressively for patients in NYHA class I/II up to 10 years. Additional determinants of prognosis and ICD discharge rate were identified left ventricular ejection fraction, age and tendency for the basic cardiac disease, however neither the result of electrophysiological testing nor the results of non-invasive risk stratification. In patients with ischemic heart disease, revascularization procedures improved prognosis only in tendency, while the effect of ICD therapy was significant. In patients with the non-obstructive form of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy ICD, discharges occurred in about 50% of patients; in contrast patients with surgical myectomy for obstructive cardiomyopathy showed no events during follow-up. In patients with chronic inflammatory heart disease and normal left ventricular function (LVF), a very low event rate was expected if patients were treated by immunosuppressive drugs. Patients with dilated cardiomyopathy did not differ from patients with ischemic heart disease with respect to prognosis and ICD discharge rate.

CONCLUSION: Significant determinants of prognosis and ICD discharge rate are left ventricular function, age and with limitations the basic cardiac disease. In contrast to patients with better LVF relative survival benefit decreases significantly after 5 years in patients with a worse LVF. Patients with aborted SCD and preserved LVF experience half the ICD discharges compared to patients with poor LVF and gain at the same time a normalization of life expectancy. Causative treatment of the basic disease has an impact on the overall prognosis and event rate, but should in general not influence the decision for IDC implantation in high risk patients.

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