Estimate the effect of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors on the risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) following myocardial infarction (MI).
Background: Trials in post-MI patients have shown that ACE inhibitor therapy reduces mortality. However, the effect on SCD as a mechanism has not been clarified.
Methods: Trials of ACE inhibitor therapy following MI reported between January, 1978 and August, 1997 were identified. Studies were included if they met the following criteria: 1) randomized comparison of ACE inhibitor to placebo within 14 days of MI; 2) study duration/blinded follow-up of > or =6 weeks; 3) the number of deaths and modes of death were reported or could be obtained from the investigators.
Results: We identified 374 candidate articles, of which 15 met the inclusion criteria. The 15 trials included 15,104 patients, 2,356 of whom died. Most (87%) fatalities were cardiovascular and 900 were SCDs. A significant reduction in SCD risk or a trend towards this was observed in all of the larger (N > 500) trials. Overall, ACE inhibitor therapy resulted in significant reductions in risk of death (random effects odds ratio [OR] = 0.83; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.71-0.97), cardiovascular death (OR = 0.82; 95% CI 0.69-0.97) and SCD (OR = 0.80; 95% CI 0.70-0.92).
Conclusions: This analysis is consistent with prior reports showing that ACE inhibitors decrease the risk of death following a recent MI by reducing cardiovascular mortality. Moreover, this analysis suggests that a reduction in SCD risk with ACE inhibitors is an important component of this survival benefit.