Therapeutic decision tree for patients with sustained ventricular tachyarrhythmias or aborted cardiac arrest: a critical review of the Antiarrhythmics Versus Implantable Defibrillator trial and the Canadian Implantable Defibrillator Study

J Farré, J A Cabrera, J Romero, J M Rubio
American Journal of Cardiology 2000 November 2, 86 (9): 44K-51K
Antiarrhythmic drugs, mainly amiodarone and sotalol, radiofrequency catheter ablation, and the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) are the 3 therapeutic options in patients with sustained ventricular tachycardia (VT) or ventricular fibrillation (VF). Idiopathic VT, incessant VT, frequently recurring, hemodynamically stable VT, and VT based on bundle branch reentry, are candidates for radiofrequency catheter ablation. Patients with high-risk ventricular tachyarrhythmias should receive ICDs as initial therapy. Two studies, the Antiarrhythmics Versus Implantable Defibrillator trial (AVID) and the Canadian Implantable Defibrillator Study (CIDS) have tried to approach the problem of these high-risk ventricular tachyarrhythmias. Although at 3 years, the ICD in AVID demonstrated a significant relative risk reduction over amiodarone of 31.5%, CIDS could not duplicate this finding. At 3 years, the relative risk reduction conferred by the ICD over amiodarone in CIDS was only 13.7%. A careful analysis of both studies suggests that CIDS was insufficiently powered to demonstrate statistically significant benefits similar to those shown by AVID, and furthermore, seemed to include an undetermined number of low-risk VT patients. The problem in the CIDS trial in this regard was the recruitment of patients in whom the inclusion criteria were met by the arrhythmias induced during the electrophysiology stimulation study, but which did not exist in real life. In addition CIDS included 14% of patients with (1) undocumented syncope and inducible monomorphic sustained VT; or (2) long runs of spontaneous nonsustained VT. Under these circumstances, the therapeutic implications of AVID remain unchallenged.

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