Background: The antiarrhythmic effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3PUFA) in ischemic heart disease have been demonstrated; however, studies in patients surviving malignant ventricular arrhythmias of different etiologies treated with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) have given conflicting results. The purpose of this study was to assess the antiarrhythmic effect of n-3PUFA versus placebo in 566 patients with heart failure enrolled in the GISSI-HF trial who received an ICD for secondary or primary prevention of ventricular fibrillation (VF) or tachycardia (VT).
Methods: Clinical data and arrhythmic event recordings extracted from the device memory were obtained. We tested the treatment effect by a multivariate Cox model adjusting for all clinical parameters associated with the primary end point defined as time to first appropriate ICD discharge for VT/VF.
Results: In the 566 patients with at least one recorded follow-up visit, 1363 VT and 316 VF episodes were terminated by ICD pacing or shock over a median follow-up of 928 days. The incidence of the primary end point event was 27.3% in the n-3PUFA group and 34.0% in the placebo group (adjusted hazard rate = 0.80, 95% CI 0.59-1.09, P = .152). Patients who received 1, 2 to 3, or >3 ICD discharges were 8.9%, 7.1%, and 11.1% in the n-3PUFA group, compared with slightly higher rates of 11.1%, 10.7%, and 12.1% in the placebo group (overall P = .30). Patients with the highest 3-month increase in plasma n-3PUFA had a somewhat lower incidence of arrhythmic events.
Conclusions: The results of this study, though not statistically significant, support prior evidences of an antiarrhythmic effect of n-3PUFA in patients with ICD, although they leave open the issue of whether this effect leads to a survival benefit.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00336336.
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