OBJECTIVES: This study compared cardiac resynchronization therapy's (CRT) impact on ventricular tachyarrhythmia susceptibility in patients who, due to worsening heart failure (HF) symptoms, underwent a replacement of a conventional implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) with a CRT-ICD. BACKGROUND: Cardiac resynchronization therapy is an effective addition to conventional treatment of HF in many patients with left ventricular systolic dysfunction. However, whether CRT-induced improvements in HF status also reduce susceptibility to life-threatening arrhythmias is less certain. METHODS: Clinical and ICD electrogram data were evaluated in 18 consecutive ICD patients who underwent an upgrade to CRT-ICD. Pharmacologic HF therapy was not altered during follow-up. The definition of ventricular tachycardia (VT) and ventricular fibrillation (VF) for each patient was as determined by device programming. Statistical comparisons used paired t tests. RESULTS: Findings were recorded during two time periods: 47 ± 21 months (range 24 to 70 months) before and 14 ± 2 months (range 9 to 18 months) after CRT upgrade. At time of upgrade, patient age was 69 ± 11 years and ejection fraction was 21 ± 8%. Before CRT the frequency of VT, VF, and appropriate ICD shocks was 0.31 ± 1.23, 0.047 ± 0.083, and 0.048 ± 0.085 episodes/month/patient, respectively. After CRT-ICD, VT and VF arrhythmia burdens and frequency of shocks were respectively 0.13 ± 0.56, 0.001 ± 0.004, and 0.003 ± 0.016 episodes/month/patient (p = 0.59, 0.03, and 0.05 vs. pre-CRT). CONCLUSIONS: Arrhythmia frequency and number of appropriate ICD treatments were reduced after upgrade to CRT-ICD for HF treatment. Thus, apart from hemodynamic benefits, CRT may also ameliorate ventricular tachyarrhythmia susceptibility in HF patients.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from the Cardiac Arrhythmia Center at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dr. Ermis was supported in part by the Midwest Arrhythmia Research Foundation, Edina, Minnesota. Dr. Benditt is a consultant and shareholder for Medtronic Inc., and St. Jude Medical Inc. Dr. Lurie is a consultant and shareholder for St. Jude Medical Inc.