Tremendous strides have been made in recent years in the treatment and prevention of sudden cardiac death. Large scale trials have now established several interventions that may improve survival in patients susceptible to sudden cardiac death. In patients who have had a sustained ventricular tachyarrhythmia, the current therapy of choice is an implantable cardioverter defibrillator. For prophylaxis of sudden cardiac death in patients without a previous event, several approaches should be considered. β-Adrenergic blocking agents are an effective pharmacologic therapy in patients following myocardial infarction, and their efficacy has also most recently been demonstrated in patients with congestive heart failure. There is no Vaughan Williams class I or III antiarrhythmic drug that has demonstrated efficacy as a prophylactic agent to reduce mortality in these populations, with the possible exception of amiodarone. The best therapeutic approach for prophylactic therapy to prevent sudden cardiac death appears to be the implantable cardioverter defibrillator; however, its use can be justified only in patients at high risk for developing sudden cardiac death. Further work is needed to identify the high risk populations in which this therapy is warranted.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine