Ventricular tachycardia rate and morphology determine energy and current requirements for transthoracic cardioversion.
BACKGROUND The electrical current and energy required to terminate ventricular tachyarrhythmias are known to vary by arrhythmia: Ventricular tachycardia (VT) is generally considered to require less energy than ventricular fibrillation (VF). The hypothesis of our study was that current requirements for transthoracic termination of VT are further determined by VT rate and QRS complex morphology.
METHODS AND RESULTS We prospectively studied 203 patients who received a total of 569 shocks for VT or VF by following a current-based protocol. This protocol recommended shocks for VT beginning at 18 A (70 +/- 22 J) and shocks for VF beginning at 25 or 30 A (137 +/- 52 J or 221 +/- 70 J). The ventricular tachyarrhythmias were subclassified as monomorphic VT (MVT): uniform QRS complex morphology on surface electrocardiogram and heart rate greater than 100 beats per minute; polymorphic VT (PVT): nonuniform QRS complex morphology and heart rate less than or equal to 300 beats per minute; or VF: nonuniform QRS complex morphology and heart rate greater than 300 beats per minute. We found that shocks of 18 A and 25 A for terminating MVT had success rates of 69% and 82%, respectively, whereas such low-current shocks were less successful for PVT (33% at 18 A) and for VF (19% at 18 A, 53% at 25 A). High-current shocks of 35 A and 40 A were equally successful for the three ventricular tachyarrhythmias. Subdividing MVT revealed that slower MVT (heart rate less than 200 beats per minute) had a significantly better success rate with low-current shocks of 18 A and 25 A than did faster MVT (greater than 200 beats per minute) (89% versus 72% success, p less than 0.01). Bundle branch block morphology, QRS axis, and duration of ventricular tachyarrhythmia did not alter current requirements.
CONCLUSIONS Heart rate and electrocardiographic degree of organization of ventricular tachycardia are important determinants of transthoracic energy and current requirements for cardioversion and defibrillation. Transthoracic termination of MVT requires relatively low current or energy, but PVT behaves more like VF and requires higher electrical current or energy.
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association