Evolution and triggers of defibrillator shocks in patients with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy

Heart. 2023 Jul 12;109(15):1146-1152. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2022-321739.


Introduction: Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) can prevent sudden cardiac death due to ventricular arrhythmias in patients with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). The aim of our study was to assess the cumulative burden, evolution and potential triggers of appropriate ICD shocks during long-term follow-up, which may help to reduce and further refine individual arrhythmic risk in this challenging disease.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study included 53 patients with definite ARVC according to the 2010 Task Force Criteria from the multicentre Swiss ARVC Registry with an implanted ICD for primary or secondary prevention. Follow-up was conducted by assessing all available patient records from patient visits, hospitalisations, blood samples, genetic analysis, as well as device interrogation and tracings.

Results: Fifty-three patients (male 71.7%, mean age 43±2.2 years, genotype positive 58.5%) were analysed during a median follow-up of 7.9 (IQR 10) years. In 29 (54.7%) patients, 177 appropriate ICD shocks associated with 71 shock episodes occurred. Median time to first appropriate ICD shock was 2.8 (IQR 3.6) years. Long-term risk of shocks remained high throughout long-term follow-up. Shock episodes occurred mainly during daytime (91.5%, n=65) and without seasonal preference. We identified potentially reversible triggers in 56 of 71 (78.9%) appropriate shock episodes, the main triggers representing physical activity, inflammation and hypokalaemia.

Conclusion: The long-term risk of appropriate ICD shocks in patients with ARVC remains high during long-term follow-up. Ventricular arrhythmias occur more often during daytime, without seasonal preference. Reversible triggers are frequent with the most common triggers for appropriate ICD shocks being physical activity, inflammation and hypokalaemia in this patient population.

Keywords: cardiomyopathies; defibrillators, implantable; tachycardia, ventricular; ventricular fibrillation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / complications
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / therapy
  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia* / complications
  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia* / diagnosis
  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia* / therapy
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / epidemiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / prevention & control
  • Defibrillators, Implantable* / adverse effects
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypokalemia* / complications
  • Inflammation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular* / complications
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular* / therapy