Evolution of clinical diagnosis in patients presenting with unexplained cardiac arrest or syncope due to polymorphic ventricular tachycardia
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BACKGROUND: A systematic evaluation of patients with unexplained cardiac arrest (UCA) yields a diagnosis in 50% of the cases. However, evolution of clinical phenotype, identification of new disease-causing mutations, and description of new syndromes may revise the diagnosis. OBJECTIVE: To assess the evolution in diagnosis among patients with initially UCA. METHODS: Diagnoses were reviewed for all patients with UCA recruited from the Cardiac Arrest Survivors with Preserved Ejection Fraction Registry with at least 1 year of follow-up. RESULTS: After comprehensive investigation of 68 patients (age 45.2 ± 14.9 years; 63% men), the initial diagnosis was as follows: idiopathic ventricular fibrillation (n = 34 [50%]), a primary arrhythmic disorder (n = 21 [31%]), and an occult structural cause (n = 13 [19%]). Patients were followed for 30 ± 17 months, during which time the diagnosis changed in 12 (18%) patients. A specific diagnosis emerged for 7 patients (21%) with an initial diagnosis of idiopathic ventricular fibrillation. A structural cardiomyopathy evolved in 2 patients with an initial diagnosis of primary electrical disorder, while the specific structural cardiomyopathy was revised for 1 patient. Two patients with an initial diagnosis of a primary arrhythmic disorder were subsequently considered to have a different primary arrhythmic disorder. A follow-up resting electrocardiogram was the test that most frequently changed the diagnosis (67% of the cases), followed by genetic testing (17%). CONCLUSIONS: The reevaluation of patients presenting with UCA may lead to a change in diagnosis in up to 20%. This emphasizes the need to actively monitor the phenotype and also has implications for the treatment of these patients and the screening of their relatives.
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