Contemporary strategies for risk stratification and prevention of sudden death with the implantable defibrillator in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Heart Rhythm. 2016 May;13(5):1155-1165. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2015.12.048. Epub 2016 Jan 1.


Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is regarded as the most common nontraumatic cause of sudden death (SD) in young people (including trained athletes). Introduction of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICD) to HCM 15 years ago represented a new paradigm for clinical practice and probably the most significant advance in management of this disease. ICDs offer protection against SD by terminating potentially lethal ventricular tachyarrhythmias (11%/year secondary and 4%/year primary prevention), although implant decisions are weighed against the possibility of device-related complications (5%/year). ICDs have altered the natural history of HCM, creating the opportunity for extended or normal longevity for many patients. However, assessing SD risk and targeting appropriate candidates for prophylactic device therapy can be compounded by unpredictability of the underlying arrhythmogenic substrate, evident by delays ≥10 years between implant and first ICD intervention. Multiple or a single strong risk marker within the clinical profile of an individual HCM patient can justify consideration for a primary-prevention ICD when combined with physician judgment and shared decision making. The role of the mathematical SD risk score proposed by the European Society of Cardiology to identify patients who benefit from ICD therapy is incompletely resolved. Contemporary treatment interventions and advanced risk stratification using ≥1 conventional markers have served the HCM patient population well, with reduced disease-related mortality rates across all age groups to <1%/year, due largely to the penetration of ICDs into HCM practice. Prevention of SD has now become an integral, albeit challenging, component of HCM management, contributing importantly to its emergence as a contemporary treatable cardiac disease.

Keywords: Cardiovascular magnetic resonance; Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator; Sudden death.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic* / complications
  • Cardiomyopathy, Hypertrophic* / therapy
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / prevention & control*
  • Defibrillators, Implantable / adverse effects*
  • Disease Management
  • Electric Countershock* / adverse effects
  • Electric Countershock* / instrumentation
  • Electric Countershock* / methods
  • Humans
  • Primary Prevention / methods
  • Risk Assessment
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular* / etiology
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular* / prevention & control