Context: Recently, the implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) has been promoted for prevention of sudden death in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). However, the effectiveness and appropriate selection of patients for this therapy is incompletely resolved.
Objective: To study the relationship between clinical risk profile and incidence and efficacy of ICD intervention in HCM.
Design, setting, and patients: Multicenter registry study of ICDs implanted between 1986 and 2003 in 506 unrelated patients with HCM. Patients were judged to be at high risk for sudden death; had received ICDs; underwent evaluation at 42 referral and nonreferral institutions in the United States, Europe, and Australia; and had a mean follow-up of 3.7 (SD, 2.8) years. Measured risk factors for sudden death included family history of sudden death, massive left ventricular hypertrophy, nonsustained ventricular tachycardia on Holter monitoring, and unexplained prior syncope.
Main outcome measure: Appropriate ICD intervention terminating ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation.
Results: The 506 patients were predominately young (mean age, 42 [SD, 17] years) at implantation, and most (439 [87%]) had no or only mildly limiting symptoms. ICD interventions appropriately terminated ventricular tachycardia/fibrillation in 103 patients (20%). Intervention rates were 10.6% per year for secondary prevention after cardiac arrest (5-year cumulative probability, 39% [SD, 5%]), and 3.6% per year for primary prevention (5-year probability, 17% [SD, 2%]). Time to first appropriate discharge was up to 10 years, with a 27% (SD, 7%) probability 5 years or more after implantation. For primary prevention, 18 of the 51 patients with appropriate ICD interventions (35%) had undergone implantation for only a single risk factor; likelihood of appropriate discharge was similar in patients with 1, 2, or 3 or more risk markers (3.83, 2.65, and 4.82 per 100 person-years, respectively; P = .77). The single sudden death due to an arrhythmia (in the absence of advanced heart failure) resulted from ICD malfunction. ICD complications included inappropriate shocks in 136 patients (27%).
Conclusions: In a high-risk HCM cohort, ICD interventions for life-threatening ventricular tachyarrhythmias were frequent and highly effective in restoring normal rhythm. An important proportion of ICD discharges occurred in primary prevention patients who had undergone implantation for a single risk factor. Therefore, a single marker of high risk for sudden death may be sufficient to justify consideration for prophylactic defibrillator implantation in selected patients with HCM.