Circumstances and Outcomes of Sudden Unexpected Death in Patients With High-Risk Myocardial Infarction
Implications for Prevention
Background—Sudden death (SD) is a frequent catastrophic complication in patients after myocardial infarction. Circumstances of SD may affect strategies for prevention.
Methods and Results—We reviewed source documentation for 1067 patients who had SD in the Valsartan in Acute Myocardial Infarction Trial (VALIANT) trial. We determined the circumstances of these events and assessed long-term mortality in patients who were resuscitated. Location of the SD event was available in 978 of 1067 patients, with 226 events occurring within the first 40 days. Although SD was more likely to occur at home (645 of 978, 66%) than in hospital (204 of 978, 21%), the proportion of in-hospital events was higher early on (99 of 226, 44%). Home events were less likely to be witnessed regardless of time frame. Preceding activity was known for 42% of patients with home arrest; of these, 52% were determined to be asleep at time of event, and these deaths were more likely to be unwitnessed. A majority of patients for whom initial ECG rhythm was reported had ventricular tachycardia/ventricular fibrillation (189 of 283, 67%). Of the 155 patients successfully resuscitated, 24% subsequently received an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. Nineteen percent of those who received an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator subsequently died compared with 49% of patients who did not receive an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (hazard ratio, 0.36; 95% confidence interval, 0.14 to 0.93; P=0.04).
Conclusions—A high proportion of SD events after high-risk myocardial infarction occurred at home, but in-hospital events were more common early on. Patients who were asleep were more likely to have unwitnessed arrests. Alternative strategies for the prevention of SD in patients who are not candidates for implantable cardioverter-defibrillator will need to take into account the circumstances of SD events.
- arrhythmia, cardiac
- death, sudden
- defibrillators, implantable
- myocardial infarction
- tachycardia, ventricular
- Received September 21, 2010.
- Accepted April 1, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.