Abstract

Aims

To determine whether risk stratification tests can predict serious arrhythmic events after acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in patients with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF ≤ 0.40).

Methods and results

A total of 5869 consecutive patients were screened in 10 European centres, and 312 patients (age 65 ± 11 years) with a mean LVEF of 31 ± 6% were included in the study. Heart rate variability/turbulence, ambient arrhythmias, signal-averaged electrocardiogram (SAECG), T-wave alternans, and programmed electrical stimulation (PES) were performed 6 weeks after AMI. The primary endpoint was ECG-documented ventricular fibrillation or symptomatic sustained ventricular tachycardia (VT). To document these arrhythmic events, the patients received an implantable ECG loop-recorder. There were 25 primary endpoints (8.0%) during the follow-up of 2 years. The strongest predictors of primary endpoint were measures of heart rate variability, e.g. hazard ratio (HR) for reduced very-low frequency component (<5.7 ln ms2) adjusted for clinical variables was 7.0 (95% CI: 2.4–20.3, P < 0.001). Induction of sustained monomorphic VT during PES (adjusted HR = 4.8, 95% CI, 1.7–13.4, P = 0.003) also predicted the primary endpoint.

Conclusion

Fatal or near-fatal arrhythmias can be predicted by many risk stratification methods, especially by heart rate variability, in patients with reduced LVEF after AMI.

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