Microvolt T-wave alternans identifies patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy who benefit from implantable cardioverter-defibrillator therapy

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007 Jan 2;49(1):50-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2006.06.079. Epub 2006 Dec 13.


Objectives: This study sought to assess whether implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) have different mortality benefits among patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy who screen negative and non-negative (positive and indeterminate) for microvolt T-wave alternans (MTWA).

Background: Microvolt T-wave alternans has been proposed as an effective tool for risk stratification. However, no studies have examined whether ICD benefits differ by MTWA group.

Methods: We developed a prospective cohort of 768 patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy (left ventricular ejection fraction < or =35%) and no prior sustained ventricular arrhythmia, of which 392 (51%) received ICDs. The mean follow-up time was 27 +/- 12 months. Propensity scores for ICD implantation based on the variables most likely to influence defibrillator implantation were developed for each MTWA cohort. Multivariable Cox analyses that controlled for propensity score, demographics, and clinical variables evaluated the degree to which ICDs decreased mortality risk for each MTWA group.

Results: We identified 514 (67%) patients with a non-negative MTWA test result. After multivariable adjustment, ICDs were associated with lower all-cause mortality in MTWA-non-negative patients (hazard ratio [HR] 0.45, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.27 to 0.76, p = 0.003) but not in MTWA-negative patients (HR 0.85, 95% CI 0.33 to 2.20, p = 0.73) (for interaction, p = 0.04), with the mortality benefit in MTWA-non-negative patients largely mediated through arrhythmic mortality reduction (HR 0.30, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.68, p = 0.004). The number needed to treat with an ICD for 2 years to save 1 life was 9 among MTWA-non-negative patients and 76 among MTWA-negative patients.

Conclusions: In patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy and no prior history of ventricular arrhythmia, mortality reduction with ICD implantation differs by MTWA status, with implications for risk stratification and health policy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac*
  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnosis*
  • Cardiomyopathies / etiology
  • Cardiomyopathies / therapy*
  • Defibrillators, Implantable*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Ischemia / complications
  • Myocardial Ischemia / therapy
  • Prospective Studies