Ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation occurs less often in patients with left bundle branch block and combined resynchronization and defibrillators than in patients with narrow QRS and conventional defibrillators

Florian Blaschke, Thomas Knaus, Oezlem Celebi, Alice Krebs, Aischa Nitardy, Dirk Habedank, Rainer Dietz, Martin Stockburger
Europace: European Pacing, Arrhythmias, and Cardiac Electrophysiology 2012, 14 (2): 224-9

AIMS: Mortality in chronic heart failure (CHF) patients with left bundle branch block (LBBB) is high. Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) reduces symptoms and mortality in CHF patients with LBBB. Whether CRT promotes or prevents ventricular tachycardia (VT)/ventricular fibrillation (VF) remains controversial, however. Therefore, we aimed to analyse arrhythmia-related CRT effects and characterized the VT/VF incidence in CRT-defibrillator patients and matched controls with conventional implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) for primary prevention of sudden cardiac death.

METHODS AND RESULTS: We enrolled 134 patients [110 men, left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) 24 ± 8%, 71 coronary artery disease, CRT-ICD 67, conventional ICD matched controls 67, follow-up 31 ± 17 months] and monitored overall survival and the time to a first VT/VF episode. Controls did not have LBBB. They were otherwise matched for age, LVEF, and follow-up duration. Gender and underlying disease did not differ between the groups. Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed more favourable arrhythmia-free survival in CRT-ICD vs. conventional ICD patients [hazard ratio (HR) 2.26, confidence interval (CI) 1.09-4.67, log rank P = 0.023]. The difference persisted in the multivariate Cox regression analysis (HR 3.25, CI 1.18-8.93, P= 0.022). Overall survival was similar in both groups (HR 1.45, CI 0.55-3.82, P = 0.45).

CONCLUSIONS: Chronic heart failure patients with LBBB treated with CRT-ICD, experience less and delayed VT/VF episodes compared with matched controls without LBBB receiving conventional ICD. In the long-term, CRT appears to exert antiarrhythmic effects and to attenuate the particularly high arrhythmia-related risk of CHF patients with LBBB. The incremental benefit of adding the ICD option to CRT pacing in LBBB patients appears questionable.

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