[Risk stratification and prevention of sudden death in patients with heart failure]

Julián Villacastín, Ramón Bover, Nicasio P Castellano, Javier Moreno, Ricardo Morales, Arturo García-Espinosa
Revista Española de Cardiología 2004, 57 (8): 768-82
Patients with heart failure can die of progressive refractory heart failure or sudden cardiac death. This article reviews the major clinical predictors of sudden death in patients with heart failure due to left ventricular systolic dysfunction. Although earlier studies have identified many independent univariate predictors of reduced survival in these patients, the positive predictive value of most of them is low. Cardioverter defibrillator implantation has been shown to be the most effective therapy in patients resuscitated after cardiac arrest caused by ventricular fibrillation or poorly tolerated ventricular tachycardia. Low left ventricular ejection fraction, low New York Heart Association functional class, unsustained ventricular tachycardia and inducibility of ventricular arrhythmia in electrophysiological studies may also identify high-risk patients who are candidates for cardioverter defibrillator implantation. The role of amiodarone in preventing sudden death in high-risk patients with heart failure seems to be small. Further studies are needed to improve risk stratification criteria to select patients with heart failure who are candidates for cardioverter defibrillator implantation.

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