Propranolol Versus Metoprolol for Treatment of Electrical Storm in Patients With Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018 May 1;71(17):1897-1906. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2018.02.056.


Background: Electrical storm (ES), characterized by unrelenting recurrences of ventricular arrhythmias, is observed in approximately 30% of patients with implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) and is associated with high mortality rates.

Objectives: Sympathetic blockade with β-blockers, usually in combination with intravenous (IV) amiodarone, have proved highly effective in the suppression of ES. In this study, we compared the efficacy of a nonselective β-blocker (propranolol) versus a β1-selective blocker (metoprolol) in the management of ES.

Methods: Between 2011 and 2016, 60 ICD patients (45 men, mean age 65.0 ± 8.5 years) with ES developed within 24 h from admission were randomly assigned to therapy with either propranolol (160 mg/24 h, Group A) or metoprolol (200 mg/24 h, Group B), combined with IV amiodarone for 48 h.

Results: Patients under propranolol therapy in comparison with metoprolol-treated individuals presented a 2.67 times decreased incidence rate (incidence rate ratio: 0.375; 95% confidence interval: 0.207 to 0.678; p = 0.001) of ventricular arrhythmic events (tachycardia or fibrillation) and a 2.34 times decreased rate of ICD discharges (incidence rate ratio: 0.428; 95% CI: 0.227 to 0.892; p = 0.004) during the intensive care unit (ICU) stay, after adjusting for age, sex, ejection fraction, New York Heart Association functional class, heart failure type, arrhythmia type, and arrhythmic events before ICU admission. At the end of the first 24-h treatment period, 27 of 30 (90.0%) patients in group A, while only 16 of 30 (53.3%) patients in group B were free of arrhythmic events (p = 0.03). The termination of arrhythmic events was 77.5% less likely in Group B compared with Group A (hazard ratio: 0.225; 95% CI: 0.112 to 0.453; p < 0.001). Time to arrhythmia termination and length of hospital stay were significantly shorter in the propranolol group (p < 0.05 for both).

Conclusions: The combination of IV amiodarone and oral propranolol is safe, effective, and superior to the combination of IV amiodarone and oral metoprolol in the management of ES in ICD patients.

Keywords: ICD; electrical storm; nonselective β-blocker; selective β-blocker.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Aged
  • Defibrillators, Implantable / adverse effects*
  • Defibrillators, Implantable / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Metoprolol / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Propranolol / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tachycardia / drug therapy*
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / drug therapy*


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Propranolol
  • Metoprolol