The prognostic significance of ventricular arrhythmias induced by programmed electrical stimulation was evaluated in 50 survivors of acute myocardial infarction complicated by a major new conduction disturbance (38 patients), congestive heart failure (33 patients) or sustained ventricular tachyarrhythmias (22 patients), alone or in combination. Programmed stimulation was performed in patients in stable condition 7 to 36 days (mean 16) after infarction using one to three extrastimuli at four times diastolic threshold at a maximum of two right ventricular sites. Two groups were identified by the response to programmed stimulation: 17 patients with sustained (>15 seconds) or nonsustained (>7 beats but ≤15 seconds) ventricular tachycardia (group I), and 33 patients with 0 to 7 intraventricular reentrant complexes in response to maximal stimulation efforts (group II). Group I patients had a higher incidence of anterior infarction than that of patients in group II (71 versus 42%), had lower left ventricular ejection fraction (mean 0.35 versus 0.48) and were more often treated with antiarrhythmic drugs (47 versus 18%, p < 0.05). There were no significant differences between groups in the occurrence of congestive failure, new conduction disorders or sustained ventricular arrhythmias with infarction, or in the proportions treated with a beta-receptor blocking agent, coronary bypass grafting or a permanent pacemaker. Total cardiac mortality was 24% during a mean follow-up period of 23 months and did not differ between groups; however, the response to programmed stimulation identified a group at high risk of late sudden death or spontaneous ventricular tachycardia: 7 (41%) of 17 group I patients compared with 0 of 33 group II patients (p < 0.001). The induction of sustained or nonsustained ventricular tachycardia identified all patients who died suddenly or had spontaneous tachycardia (sensitivity 100%), but triple extrastimuli were required to induce prognostically significant arrhythmias in five of these seven patients; the specificity of this protocol was only 57%. When the clinical variables of the group were evaluated individually, the response to programmed stimulation had a stronger association with occurrence of late sudden death than did any other factor (Fisher's exact test, p < 0.001); however, a type II error could not be excluded. Thus, programmed ventricular stimulation using a maximum of three extrastimuli may be a sensitive but relatively nonspecific method for identifying survivors of complicated infarction at high risk of late sudden death or spontaneous ventricular arrhythmias.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine