Inappropriate implantable cardioverter-defibrillator shocks: incidence, predictors, and impact on mortality

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011 Feb 1;57(5):556-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2010.06.059.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess the incidence, predictors, and outcome of inappropriate shocks in implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) patients.

Background: Despite the benefits of ICD therapy, inappropriate defibrillator shocks continue to be a significant drawback. The prognostic importance of inappropriate shocks outside the setting of a clinical trial remains unclear.

Methods: From 1996 to 2006, all recipients of defibrillator devices equipped with intracardiac electrogram storage were included in the current analysis and clinically assessed at implantation. During follow-up, the occurrence of inappropriate ICD shocks and all-cause mortality was noted.

Results: A total of 1,544 ICD patients (79% male, age 61 ± 13 years) were included in the analysis. During the follow-up period of 41 ± 18 months, 13% experienced ≥1 inappropriate shocks. The cumulative incidence steadily increased to 18% at 5-year follow-up. Independent predictors of the occurrence of inappropriate shocks included a history of atrial fibrillation (hazard ratio [HR]: 2.0, p < 0.01) and age younger than 70 years (HR: 1.8, p = 0.01). Experiencing a single inappropriate shock resulted in an increased risk of all-cause mortality (HR: 1.6, p = 0.01). Mortality risk increased with every subsequent shock, up to an HR of 3.7 after 5 inappropriate shocks.

Conclusions: In a large cohort of ICD patients, inappropriate shocks were common. The most important finding is the association between inappropriate shocks and mortality, independent of interim appropriate shocks.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Defibrillators, Implantable / adverse effects*
  • Defibrillators, Implantable / trends*
  • Equipment Failure*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Tachycardia, Supraventricular / mortality*
  • Tachycardia, Supraventricular / physiopathology
  • Tachycardia, Supraventricular / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome