Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is the leading cause of mortality in heart failure (HF). Today the implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) has become a commonplace therapy around the world for patients with both ischemic and non-ischemic cardiomyopathy and an ejection fraction (EF) ≤ 35%. However, EF alone does not discriminate between the modes of death from HF (sudden arrhythmic death vs. non-sudden death). Other risk statifiers, such as electrophysiologic study and microvolt T-wave alternans testing, should therefore be used in the appropriate settings to minimize the number of unnecessary device implants. In addition, left ventricular mechanical dyssynchrony has now become recognized as an additional major marker of cardiac mortality. Its assessment should entail echocardiography rather than measurement of the QRS duration. This will allow us to better integrate the ability of cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) in enhancing cardiac function with the ability of an ICD in preventing SCD. This review aims to: 1) give a synthesis of the published evidence regarding the value of implantable ICDs and CRT in the primary prophylaxis of SCD in HF; 2) discuss controversial clinical issues in this area; and 3) recommend practical device-based management strategies.
- Sudden death
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine