Teerlink JR. Jalaluddin M. Anderson S. Kukin ML. Eichhorn EJ. Francis G. Packer M. Massie BM. Ambulatory ventricular arrhythmias in patients with heart failure do not specifically predict an increased risk of sudden death. Circulation. 101(1):40-6, 2000.
Ventricular arrhythmias are a frequent finding in congestive heart failure (CHF) patients and a cause of concern for physicians caring for them. Previous studies have reached conflicting conclusions regarding the importance of ventricular arrhythmias as predictors of sudden death in patients with CHF. This study examined the independent predictive value of ventricular arrhythmias for sudden death and all-cause mortality in PROMISE (Prospective Randomized Milrinone Survival Evaluation). Ventricular arrhythmias were analyzed and quantified by use of prespecified criteria on baseline ambulatory ECGs from 1080 patients with New York Heart Association (NYHA) class III/IV symptoms and a left ventricular ejection fraction </=35% enrolled in PROMISE. The relationship of ventricular arrhythmias and other clinical parameters to overall mortality and sudden death classified by an independent, blinded mortality committee was determined. There were 290 deaths, of which 139 were classified as sudden. Of the several measures of ventricular ectopy that were univariate predictors, the frequency of nonsustained ventricular tachycardia (NSVT) was the most powerful predictor and remained a significant independent predictor when included with other clinical variables in multivariate models of both sudden death mortality and non-sudden death mortality. However, multiple logistic analysis with models including the clinical variables with and without the NSVT variable demonstrated that the frequency of NSVT did not add significant information beyond the clinical variables. The authors suggest this study demonstrates that ventricular arrhythmias do not specifically predict sudden death in patients with moderate-to-severe heart failure. Thus, the finding of asymptomatic NSVT on ambulatory ECG does not identify specific candidates for antiarrhythmic or device therapy.