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Abstract OBJECTIVES: This study analyzed the causes of death in the Antiarrhythmics Versus Implantable Defibrillators (AVID) Trial. BACKGROUND: Both implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) and antiarrhythmic drugs (AADs) are used as mainstays of treatment for life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias in patients who have survived either ventricular fibrillation or sustained ventricular tachycardia with hemodynamic compromise and serious symptoms. The AVID Trial compared the effectiveness of these two therapies. Survival was better with the ICD. Assessment of the cause of death should help to determine the mechanism of improvement in survival with the ICD. METHODS: Of 1,016 patients enrolled in the AVID Trial, 202 patients died. The mode of death was determined by the unblinded Principal Investigator and independently by an Events Committee, which reviewed materials meticulously blinded with respect to treatment. Deaths were classified as cardiac or noncardiac. Cardiac deaths were further classified as arrhythmic or nonarrhythmic, and causes of noncardiac death were identified. RESULTS: Deaths were more frequent in patients treated with an AAD (n = 122), compared with patients treated with the ICD (n = 80), unadjusted p < 0.001, p = 0.012 adjusted for sequential monitoring. In AVID, 157 deaths were cardiac, and 79 were arrhythmic. The major effect of the ICD was to prevent arrhythmic death (AAD = 55, ICD = 24, nominal unadjusted p < 0.001). Nonarrhythmic cardiac deaths were equal (AAD = 39, ICD = 39). Patients treated with an AAD had a slightly greater incidence of noncardiac deaths (28 vs. 17, p = 0.053), primarily due to pulmonary and renal causes. CONCLUSIONS: The ICD is more effective than an AAD in reducing arrhythmic cardiac death, while nonarrhythmic cardiac death is unchanged. Of note, apparent arrhythmic death still seems to constitute 38\% of all cardiac deaths despite treatment with an ICD. However, the ICD remains superior to an AAD in prolonging survival after life-threatening arrhythmias.
This article was published in J Am Coll Cardiol
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Cardiology