Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence, characteristics and the predictive value of nonsustained ventricular tachycardia (VT) for subsequent death and arrhythmic events after acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
Background: Nonsustained VT has been linked to an increased risk for sudden death in coronary patients. It is unknown whether this parameter can be used for selection of high-risk patients to receive an implantable defibrillator for primary prevention of sudden death in patients shortly after AMI.
Methods: In 325 consecutive infarct survivors, 24-h Holter monitoring was performed 10+/-6 days after AMI. All patients underwent coronary angiography, determination of left ventricular function and assessment of heart rate variability (HRV). Mean follow-up was 30+/-22 months.
Results: There was a low prevalence (9%) of nonsustained VT shortly after AMI. Nonsustained VT together with depressed left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was found in only 2.4% of patients. During follow-up, 25 patients reached one of the prospectively defined end points (primary composite end point of cardiac death, sustained VT or resuscitated ventricular fibrillation; secondary end point: arrhythmic events). Kaplan Meier event probability analyses revealed that only HRV, LVEF and status of the infarct-related artery were univariate predictors of death or arrhythmic events. The presence of nonsustained VT carried a relative risk of 2.6 for the primary study end point but was not a significant predictor if only arrhythmic events were considered. On multivariate analysis, only HRV, LVEF and the status of the infarct artery were found to be independently related to the primary study end point.
Conclusions: There is a low prevalence of nonsustained VT shortly after AMI. Only 2% to 3% of all infarct survivors treated according to contemporary guidelines demonstrate both depressed LVEF and nonsustained VT. The predictive value of nonsustained VT for subsequent mortality and arrhythmic events is inferior to that of impaired autonomic tone, LVEF or infarct-related artery patency. Accordingly, the use of nonsustained VT to select patients for primary implantable cardioverter/defibrillator prevention trials shortly after AMI appears to be limited.