On the Need for a Universal Prospective ECG Database
Wolf-Parkinson-White (WPW) is one of the few clinical diseases that is mainly diagnosed by the electrocardiogram. One of the ultimate goals of modern medicine is to find a method to prevent disease. One of the best examples is catheter ablation of the Accessory Tracts in patients with WPW that will prevent tachyarrhythmias and Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) in more than 95% of the patients. In patients with WPW, catheter ablation is the treatment of choice in the highly symptomatic patient with severe arrhythmias. A major challenge today is to ascertain the benefits versus the risks of doing catheter ablation in the asymptomatic patient with WPW. In this issue of Circulation, Obeyesekere et al1 using meta-analysis studied the risk of arrhythmia and sudden death in patients with asymptomatic pre-excitation and summarized the breadth of published evidence regarding the risks and benefits of catheter ablation in the asymptomatic patient. This study is an important milestone in the history of WPW, since its first description 82 years ago2 and ablation of AV conduction using a catheter was first accomplished in the dog 36 years ago3 and the first official report of its use in humans 21 years ago4. The major conclusion of this meticulous review is that the available evidence is insufficient to justify the use of catheter ablation in the asymptomatic patient. This conclusion underscores the need to establish a prospective clinical and electrocardiographic database to determine the natural history of WPW (as well as other ECG abnormalities) from birth to death. Our arguments in support of this proposal are summarized below. (SELECT FULL TEXT TO CONTINUE)
- Received April 13, 2012.
- Accepted April 16, 2012.
- Copyright © 2012, American Heart Association, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited