Ventricular Tachycardia Ablation versus Escalation of Antiarrhythmic Drugs
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BACKGROUND: Recurrent ventricular tachycardia among survivors of myocardial infarction with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is frequent despite antiarrhythmic drug therapy. The most effective approach to management of this problem is uncertain. METHODS: We conducted a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial involving patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy and an ICD who had ventricular tachycardia despite the use of antiarrhythmic drugs. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either catheter ablation (ablation group) with continuation of baseline antiarrhythmic medications or escalated antiarrhythmic drug therapy (escalated-therapy group). In the escalated-therapy group, amiodarone was initiated if another agent had been used previously. The dose of amiodarone was increased if it had been less than 300 mg per day or mexiletine was added if the dose was already at least 300 mg per day. The primary outcome was a composite of death, three or more documented episodes of ventricular tachycardia within 24 hours (ventricular tachycardia storm), or appropriate ICD shock. RESULTS: Of the 259 patients who were enrolled, 132 were assigned to the ablation group and 127 to the escalated-therapy group. During a mean (±SD) of 27.9±17.1 months of follow-up, the primary outcome occurred in 59.1% of patients in the ablation group and 68.5% of those in the escalated-therapy group (hazard ratio in the ablation group, 0.72; 95% confidence interval, 0.53 to 0.98; P=0.04). There was no significant between-group difference in mortality. There were two cardiac perforations and three cases of major bleeding in the ablation group and two deaths from pulmonary toxic effects and one from hepatic dysfunction in the escalated-therapy group. CONCLUSIONS: In patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy and an ICD who had ventricular tachycardia despite antiarrhythmic drug therapy, there was a significantly lower rate of the composite primary outcome of death, ventricular tachycardia storm, or appropriate ICD shock among patients undergoing catheter ablation than among those receiving an escalation in antiarrhythmic drug therapy. (Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and others; VANISH ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00905853.).
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