Based on a sound foundation of data in thousands of patients who underwent ambulatory ECG recording after myocardial infarction, it is clear tht ventricular arrhythmias are harbingers of sudden cardiac death. Ambulatory electrocardiography, usually performed for 24 hours, continues to be the standard by which clinicians can identify patients at risk for sudden cardiac death after acute myocardial infarction. Ideally, this test should be performed in the late hospitalization phase of acute myocardial infarction, usually 1 to 2 days prior to discharge from the hospital, and the results made known to the clinician prior to the patient's departure from the hospital. Although performed less frequently, low-level exercise testing prior to discharge from the hospital has been shown in some studies to be of prognostic value in defining a group at high risk for sudden cardiac death. This test offers the additional benefit of allowing the clinician to more knowledgeably prescribe an exercise regimen after hospitalization. The specific role of electrophysiologic testing is presently under clinical investigation. At present, only patients with documented spontaneous sustained ventricular tachycardia or sudden cardiac death after myocardial infarction should be candidates for this study. Although it may be possible in the future that electrophysiologic testing will also be used in patients with high-risk arrhythmia detected on ambulatory electrocardiography, at present this is the subject of clinical investigation in academic medical centers and is not recommended as part of standard therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine