Author(s): Wang YS, Scheinman MM, Chien WW, Cohen TJ, Lesh MD
A total of 13 (4.5%) of 290 patients with aborted sudden death had either documented (7; 54%) or strong presumptive evidence of supraventricular tachycardia that deteriorated into ventricular fibrillation. Six (46%) of the 13 had an accessory conduction pathway and either atrial fibrillation (5 patients) or paroxysmal atrioventricular (AV) reentrant tachycardia (1 patient) that deteriorated into ventricular fibrillation. Three patients with AV node reentrant tachycardia and four with atrial fibrillation and enhanced AV node conduction presented with supraventricular arrhythmias that deteriorated into ventricular fibrillation. Patients were treated with medical, surgical or catheter ablative procedures designed to prevent recurrences of supraventricular arrhythmias. Four patients received an implanted automatic defibrillator, but none had an appropriate device discharge. Over a follow-up period of 41.6 +/- 33.6 months, 12 patients are alive without symptomatic arrhythmias. One patient died because of severe chronic lung disease and heart failure. Supraventricular tachycardia was the cause of aborted sudden death in approximately 5% of patients referred for evaluation of sudden cardiac death. Treatment directed at prevention of supraventricular tachycardia was associated with an excellent prognosis. Current treatment techniques appear to obviate the need for automatic defibrillator therapy in these patients.