Aims: Antitachycardia pacing (ATP) has not routinely been used in patients who received implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) for primary prevention of sudden death. This study investigated the efficacy of empirical ATP to terminate rapid ventricular tachycardia (VT) in heart failure patients with prophylactic ICD therapy.
Methods and results: Ninety-three patients with a mean left ventricular ejection fraction of 22 +/- 7% (range: 9-35%) due to nonischemic or ischemic cardiomyopathy received prophylactic ICDs with empiric ATP. At least 2 ATP sequences with 6-pulse burst pacing trains at 81% of VT cycle length (CL) were programmed in one or two VT zones for CL below 335 +/- 23 ms and above 253 +/- 18 ms. Ventricular flutter and fibrillation (VF) with CL below 253 +/- 18 ms were treated in a separate VF zone with ICD shocks without preceding ATP attempts. During 38 +/- 27 months follow-up, 339 spontaneous ventricular tachyarrhythmias occurred in 36 of 93 study patients (39%). A total of 232 VT episodes, mean CL 293 +/- 22 ms, triggered ATP in 25 of 36 patients with ICD interventions (69%). ATP terminated 199 of 232 VT episodes (86%) with a mean CL of 294 +/- 23 ms in 23 of 25 patients (88%) who received ATP therapy. ATP failed to terminate or accelerated 33 of 232 VT episodes (14%) with a mean CL of 287 +/- 19 ms in 12 of 25 patients (48%) who received ATP therapy.
Conclusions: Painfree termination of rapid VT with empirical ATP is common in heart failure patients with prophylactic ICD therapy. The occasional inability of empiric ATP to terminate rapid VT in almost 50% of patients who receive ATP for rapid VT warrants restrictive ICD programming with regard to the number of ATP attempts in order to avoid syncope before VT termination occurs.