Despite advances in the treatment of congestive heart failure (CHF), the mortality rate continues to be high. A large number of the deaths are sudden, presumably due to ventricular arrythmias. Complex ventricular arrythmias are recorded in as many as 80% of patients with CHF, with nonsustained ventricular tachycardia occurring in 40%. The latter appears to be an independent predictor of mortality. Chronic structural abnormality responsible for CHF may be the basis for the capability of a ventricle to support life-threatening arrhythmias, which are triggered by premature ventricular contractions. The pathogenesis of arrhythmias is multifactorial. Electrolyte abnormalities, ischemia, catecholamines, inotropic and antiarrhythmic drugs may worsen arrhythmias and increase susceptibility of a ventricle to sustained arrhythmias. Beta-adrenergic blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors have a beneficial effect. The role of various drugs in the pathogenesis and treatment of ventricular arrhythmias is discussed. The efficacy of antiarrhythmic therapy targeted to asymptomatic nonsustained ventricular tachycardia, in order to prevent sudden death, is controversial. Pharmacotherapy guided by electrophysiologic testing is the treatment of choice for patients who have manifest sustained ventricular tachycardia, but patients resuscitated from ventricular fibrillation may require automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator.
- antiarrhythmic therapy
- congestive heart failure
- ventricular arrhythmia
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine