A comparison of antiarrhythmic-drug therapy with implantable defibrillators in patients resuscitated from near-fatal ventricular arrhythmias

J. McAnulty, B. Halperin, J. Kron, G. Larsen, M. Rait, R. Swenson, R. Floreck, C. Marchant, M. Hamlin, G. Heywood, P. Friedman, W. Stevenson, M. Swat, L. Ganz, M. Sweeney, J. Shea, J. Steinberg, F. Ehlert, S. Zelenkofstke, E. Menchavez-TanM. De Stefano, G. Brown, L. Karagounis, B. Crandall, J. Osborn, D. Rawling, K. Summers, M. Jacobsen, J. Herre, R. Bernsteim, L. Klevan, D. Cannom, A. Bhandari, R. Lerman, B. Firth, R. Klein, R. Freedman, M. Marks, M. Delahunty, C. Spratt, R. Marinchak, S. Rials, P. Kowey, R. Fillart, M. Hernandez, D. Scher, L. Zukerman, S. Farrell, J. Cross, J. Shewchjik, A. Epstein, R. Cooper, R. Dailey, S. Dailey, G. Kay, V. Plumb, R. Bubien, S. Knotts-Dolson, P. McKenna, C. Tidwell, S. Kim, J. Fisher, K. Ferrick, J. Gross, U. Ben-Zur, J. Durkin, A. Ferrick, K. Beckman, J. McClelland, M. Gonzalez, L. Widman, R. Lane, T. Deaton, J. Foster, G. Straughan, L. Wade, M. Brodsky, B. Allen, S. Ehrlich, L. Wolff, M. Macari-Hinson, J. Coromilas, Jr Bigger T., Jr Livelli F., J. Reiffel, K. Hickey, T. Akiyama, J. Daubert, C. Kim, D. Switzer, P. Pande, D. Flynn, M. Keller, C. Ocampo, K. Wahl, J. Vogt, S. Kutalek, S. Hessen, C. Movsowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3059 Scopus citations


Background: Patients who survive life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias are at risk for recurrent arrhythmias. They can be treated with either an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator or antiarrhythmic drugs, but the relative efficacy of these two treatment strategies is unknown. Methods: To address this issue, we conducted a randomized comparison of these two treatment strategies in patients who had been resuscitated from near-fatal ventricular fibrillation or who had undergone cardioversion from sustained ventricular tachycardia. Patients with ventricular tachycardia also had either syncope or other serious cardiac symptoms, along with a left ventricular ejection fraction of 0.40 or less. One group of patients was treated with implantation of a cardioverter-defibrillator; the other received class III antiarrhythmic drugs, primarily amiodarone at empirically determined doses. Fifty-six clinical centers screened all patients who presented with ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation during a period of nearly four years. Of 1016 patients (45 percent of whom had ventricular fibrillation, and 55 percent ventricular tachycardia), 507 were randomly assigned to treatment with implantable cardioverter-defibrillators and 509 to antiarrhythmic-drug therapy. The primary end point was overall mortality. Results: Follow-up was complete for 1013 patients (99.7 percent). Overall survival was greater with the implantable defibrillator, with unadjusted estimates of 89.3 percent, as compared with 82.3 percent in the antiarrhythmic-drug group at one year, 81.6 perCent versus 74.7 percent at two years, and 75.4 percent versus 64.1 percent at three years (P<0.02). The corresponding reductions in mortality (with 95 percent confidence limits) with the implantable defibrillator were 39±20 percent, 27±21 percent, and 31±21 percent. Conclusions: Among survivors of ventricular fibrillation or sustained ventricular tachycardia causing severe symptoms, the implantable cardioverter-defibrillator is superior to antiarrhythmic drugs for increasing overall survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1576-1583
Number of pages8
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 27 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'A comparison of antiarrhythmic-drug therapy with implantable defibrillators in patients resuscitated from near-fatal ventricular arrhythmias'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this