Author + information
- Received July 18, 1995
- Revision received March 26, 1996
- Accepted April 2, 1996
- Published online August 1, 1996.
- Juha E.K. Hartikainen, MD, PhD,
- Marek Malik, MD, PhD, FACC*,
- Anne Staunton, BSc,
- Jan Poloniecki, PhD and
- A. John Camm, MD, FACC
- ↵*Address for correspondence: Dr. Marek Malik, Department of Cardiological Sciences, St. George's Hospital, Medical School, London, England, United Kingdom.
Objectives. We investigated whether heart rate variability, the signal-averaged electrocardiogram (ECG), ventricular arrhythmias and left ventricular ejection fraction predict the mechanism of cardiac death after myocardial infarction.
Background. Postinfarction risk stratification studies have almost exclusively focused on predicting the risk of arrhythmic death. The factors that identify and distinguish persons at risk for arrhythmic and nonarrhythmic death are poorly known.
Methods. Heart rate variability, the signal-averaged ECG, ventricular arrhythmias and left ventricular ejection fraction were assessed in 575 survivors of acute myocardial infarction. The patients were followed up for 2 years; arrhythmic and nonarrhythmic cardiac deaths were used as clinical end points. During the follow-up period, 47 cardiac deaths occurred, 29 (62%) arrhythmic and 18 (38%) nonarrhythmic.
Results. All risk factors were associated with cardiac mortality in univariate analysis. With the exception of left ventricular ejection fraction, they were also predictors of arrhythmic death. Depressed heart rate variability (p < 0.001), ventricular ectopic beats (p < 0.001) and low ejection fraction (p < 0.001) were related to nonarrhythmic death. In multivariate analysis, depressed heart rate variability (p < 0.001) and runs of ventricular tachycardia (p < 0.05) predicted arrhythmic death. Nonarrhythmic death was associated with depressed heart rate variability (p < 0.001), ventricular ectopic beats (p < 0.001) and low ejection fraction (p < 0.01). By selecting patients with depressed heart rate variability, long filtered QRS duration or ventricular arrhythmias and excluding patients with the lowest ejection fraction, we identified a group in which 75% of deaths were arrhythmic. Similarly, by selecting patients with a low ejection fraction and excluding patients with the lowest heart rate variability, we identified a group in which 75% of deaths were nonarrhythmic.
Conclusions. Arrhythmic death was associated predominantly with depressed heart rate variability and ventricular tachycardia runs, and nonarrhythmic death with low ejection fraction, ventricular ectopic beats and depressed heart rate variability. A combination of risk factors identified patient groups in which a majority of deaths were either arrhythmic or nonarrhythmic.
This study was supported in part by the British Heart Foundation, London and by a Fellowship of the European Society of Cardiology, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
- Received July 18, 1995.
- Revision received March 26, 1996.
- Accepted April 2, 1996.
- American College of Cardiology