—Patients surviving ventricular fibrillation (VF) or sustained ventricular tachycardia (VT) are at a high risk of death due to a recurrence of arrhythmia. The implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) terminates VT or VF, but it is not known whether this device prolongs life in these patients compared with medical therapy with amiodarone.
Methods and Results
—A total of 659 patients with resuscitated VF or VT or with unmonitored syncope were randomly assigned to treatment with the ICD or with amiodarone. The primary outcome measure was all-cause mortality, and the secondary outcome was arrhythmic death. A total of 328 patients were randomized to receive an ICD. A thoracotomy was done in 33, no ICD was implanted in 18, and the rest had a nonthoracotomy ICD. All 331 patients randomized to amiodarone received it initially. At 5 years, 85.4% of patients assigned to amiodarone were still receiving it at a mean dose of 255 mg/day, 28.1% of ICD patients were also receiving amiodarone, and 21.4% of amiodarone patients had received an ICD. A nonsignificant reduction in the risk of death was observed with the ICD, from 10.2% per year to 8.3% per year (19.7% relative risk reduction; 95% confidence interval, −7.7% to 40%;
=0.142). A nonsignificant reduction in the risk of arrhythmic death was observed, from 4.5% per year to 3.0% per year (32.8% relative risk reduction; 95% confidence interval, −7.2% to 57.8%;
—A 20% relative risk reduction occurred in all-cause mortality and a 33% reduction occurred in arrhythmic mortality with ICD therapy compared with amiodarone; this reduction did not reach statistical significance.