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Concept: Ventricular fibrillation

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Transplantation studies in mice and rats have shown that human embryonic-stem-cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hESC-CMs) can improve the function of infarcted hearts, but two critical issues related to their electrophysiological behaviour in vivo remain unresolved. First, the risk of arrhythmias following hESC-CM transplantation in injured hearts has not been determined. Second, the electromechanical integration of hESC-CMs in injured hearts has not been demonstrated, so it is unclear whether these cells improve contractile function directly through addition of new force-generating units. Here we use a guinea-pig model to show that hESC-CM grafts in injured hearts protect against arrhythmias and can contract synchronously with host muscle. Injured hearts with hESC-CM grafts show improved mechanical function and a significantly reduced incidence of both spontaneous and induced ventricular tachycardia. To assess the activity of hESC-CM grafts in vivo, we transplanted hESC-CMs expressing the genetically encoded calcium sensor, GCaMP3 (refs 4, 5). By correlating the GCaMP3 fluorescent signal with the host ECG, we found that grafts in uninjured hearts have consistent 1:1 host–graft coupling. Grafts in injured hearts are more heterogeneous and typically include both coupled and uncoupled regions. Thus, human myocardial grafts meet physiological criteria for true heart regeneration, providing support for the continued development of hESC-based cardiac therapies for both mechanical and electrical repair.

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Heart, Muscle, Cardiac muscle, Cardiac electrophysiology, Muscular system, Ventricular fibrillation

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BACKGROUND: Heart failure (HF) patients have a high risk of death, and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are effective in preventing sudden cardiac death (SCD). However, a certain percentage of patients may not be immediate candidates for ICDs, particularly those having a short duration of risk or an uncertain amount of risk. This includes the newly diagnosed patients, as well as those on the cardiac transplant list or NYHA class IV heart failure patients who do not already have an ICD. In these patients, a wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD) may be used until long term risk of SCD is defined. The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of SCD in this population, and the efficacy of early defibrillation by a WCD. METHODS: Ten enrolling centers identified 89 eligible HF patients who were either listed for cardiac transplantation, diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, or receiving inotropic medications. Data collected included medical history, device records, and outcomes (including 90 day mortality). RESULTS: Out of 89 patients, final data on 82 patients has been collected. Patients wore the device for 75+/-58 days. Mean age was 56.8+/-13.2, and 72% were male. Most patients (98.8%) were diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy with a low ejection fraction (<40%) and twelve were listed for cardiac transplantation. Four patients were on inotropes. There were no sudden cardiac arrests or deaths during the study. Interestingly, 41.5% of patients were much improved after WCD use, while 34.1% went on to receive an ICD. CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, the WCD monitored HF patients until further assessment of risk. The leading reasons for end of WCD use were improvement in left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) or ICD implantation if there was no significant improvement in LVEF.

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Cardiomyopathy, Heart failure, Ejection fraction, Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, Cardiac arrest, Ventricular fibrillation

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The Brugada syndrome (BrS) is a malignant, genetically-determined, arrhythmic syndrome manifesting as syncope or sudden cardiac death (SCD) in individuals with structurally normal hearts. The diagnosis of the BrS is mainly based on the presence of a spontaneous or Na + channel blocker induced characteristic, electrocardiographic (ECG) pattern (type 1 or coved Brugada ECG pattern) typically seen in leads V1 and V2 recorded from the 4th to 2nd intercostal (i.c.) spaces. This pattern needs to be distinguished from similar ECG changes due to other causes (Brugada ECG phenocopies). This review focuses mainly on the ECG-based methods for diagnosis and arrhythmia risk assessment in the BrS. Presently, the main unresolved clinical problem is the identification of those patients at high risk of SCD who need implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), which is the only therapy with proven efficacy. Current guidelines recommend ICD implantation only in patients with spontaneous type 1 ECG pattern, and either history of aborted cardiac arrest or documented sustained VT (class I), or syncope of arrhythmic origin (class IIa) because they are at high risk of recurrent arrhythmic events (up to 10% or more annually for those with aborted cardiac arrest). The majority of BrS patients are asymptomatic when diagnosed and considered to have low risk (around 0.5% annually) and therefore not indicated for ICD. The majority of SCD victims in the BrS, however, had no symptoms prior to the fatal event and therefore were not protected with an ICD. While some ECG markers such as QRS fragmentation, infero-lateral early repolarisation, and abnormal late potentials on signal-averaged ECG are known to be linked to increased arrhythmic risk, they are not sufficiently sensitive or specific. Potential novel ECG-based strategies for risk stratification are discussed based on computerised methods for depolarisation and repolarisation analysis, a composite approach targeting several major components of ventricular arrhythmogenesis, and the collection of large digital ECG databases in genotyped BrS patients and their relatives.

Concepts: Cardiology, Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, Cardiac arrest, Cardiac electrophysiology, Ventricular fibrillation, Sudden cardiac death, Brugada syndrome, Cardiac dysrhythmia

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Our purpose was to analyze evidence related to timing of cooling from studies of targeted temperature management (TTM) after return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) after cardiac arrest and to recommend directions for future therapy optimization. We conducted a preliminary review of studies of both animals and patients treated with post-ROSC TTM and hypothesized that a more rapid cooling strategy in the absence of volume-adding cold infusions would provide improved outcomes in comparison with slower cooling. We defined rapid cooling as the achievement of 34°C within 3.5 hours of ROSC without the use of volume-adding cold infusions, with a ≥3.0°C/hour rate of cooling. Using the PubMed database and a previously published systematic review, we identified clinical studies published from 2002 through 2014 related to TTM. Analysis included studies with time from collapse to ROSC of 20-30 minutes, reporting of time from ROSC to target temperature and rate of patients in ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation, and hypothermia maintained for 20-24 hours. The use of cardiopulmonary bypass as a cooling method was an exclusion criterion for this analysis. We compared all rapid cooling studies with all slower cooling studies of ≥100 patients. Eleven studies were initially identified for analysis, comprising 4091 patients. Two additional studies totaling 609 patients were added based on availability of unpublished data, bringing the total to 13 studies of 4700 patients. Outcomes for patients, dichotomized into faster and slower cooling approaches, were determined using weighted linear regression using IBM SPSS Statistics software. Rapid cooling without volume-adding cold infusions yielded a higher rate of good neurological recovery than slower cooling methods. Attainment of a temperature below 34°C within 3.5 hours of ROSC and using a cooling rate of more than 3°C/hour appear to be beneficial.

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Cardiac arrest, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Asystole, Ventricular tachycardia, SPSS, Ventricular fibrillation, Defibrillation

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The aim of this study was to investigate the prognostic impact of acute-phase ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation (VT/VF) on ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) patients in the percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) era.Methods and Results:Using the database of the Osaka Acute Coronary Insufficiency Study (OACIS), we studied 4,283 consecutive patients with STEMI who were hospitalized within 12 h of STEMI onset and underwent emergency PCI. Acute-phase VT/VF, defined as ≥3 consecutive ventricular premature complexes and/or VF within the 1st week of hospitalization, occurred in 997 (23.3%) patients. In-hospital mortality risk was significantly higher in patients with acute-phase VT/VF than inthose without (14.6% vs. 4.3%, adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 1.83, P=0.0013). Among patients discharged alive, 5-year mortality rates were comparable between patients with and without acute-phase VT/VF. Subgroup analysis showed that acute-phase VT/VF was associated with increased 5-year mortality after discharge in high-risk patients (GRACE Risk Score ≥115; adjusted HR 1.60, P=0.043), but not in intermediate- or low-risk patients.

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Atherosclerosis, Cardiology, Percutaneous coronary intervention, Ventricular tachycardia, Acute coronary syndrome, Ventricular fibrillation, Premature ventricular contraction

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Background Early defibrillation plays a key role in improving survival in patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrests due to ventricular fibrillation (ventricular-fibrillation cardiac arrests), and the use of publicly accessible automated external defibrillators (AEDs) can help to reduce the time to defibrillation for such patients. However, the effect of dissemination of public-access AEDs for ventricular-fibrillation cardiac arrest at the population level has not been extensively investigated. Methods From a nationwide, prospective, population-based registry of patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in Japan, we identified patients from 2005 through 2013 with bystander-witnessed ventricular-fibrillation arrests of presumed cardiac origin in whom resuscitation was attempted. The primary outcome measure was survival at 1 month with a favorable neurologic outcome (Cerebral Performance Category of 1 or 2, on a scale from 1 [good cerebral performance] to 5 [death or brain death]). The number of patients in whom survival with a favorable neurologic outcome was attributable to public-access defibrillation was estimated. Results Of 43,762 patients with bystander-witnessed ventricular-fibrillation arrests of cardiac origin, 4499 (10.3%) received public-access defibrillation. The percentage of patients receiving public-access defibrillation increased from 1.1% in 2005 to 16.5% in 2013 (P<0.001 for trend). The percentage of patients who were alive at 1 month with a favorable neurologic outcome was significantly higher with public-access defibrillation than without public-access defibrillation (38.5% vs. 18.2%; adjusted odds ratio after propensity-score matching, 1.99; 95% confidence interval, 1.80 to 2.19). The estimated number of survivors in whom survival with a favorable neurologic outcome was attributed to public-access defibrillation increased from 6 in 2005 to 201 in 2013 (P<0.001 for trend). Conclusions In Japan, increased use of public-access defibrillation by bystanders was associated with an increase in the number of survivors with a favorable neurologic outcome after out-of-hospital ventricular-fibrillation cardiac arrest.

Concepts: Cardiac arrest, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Asystole, Ventricular tachycardia, Ventricular fibrillation, Defibrillation, Automated external defibrillator, Fibrillation

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Background Antiarrhythmic drugs are used commonly in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest for shock-refractory ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia, but without proven survival benefit. Methods In this randomized, double-blind trial, we compared parenteral amiodarone, lidocaine, and saline placebo, along with standard care, in adults who had nontraumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, shock-refractory ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia after at least one shock, and vascular access. Paramedics enrolled patients at 10 North American sites. The primary outcome was survival to hospital discharge; the secondary outcome was favorable neurologic function at discharge. The per-protocol (primary analysis) population included all randomly assigned participants who met eligibility criteria and received any dose of a trial drug and whose initial cardiac-arrest rhythm of ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia was refractory to shock. Results In the per-protocol population, 3026 patients were randomly assigned to amiodarone (974), lidocaine (993), or placebo (1059); of those, 24.4%, 23.7%, and 21.0%, respectively, survived to hospital discharge. The difference in survival rate for amiodarone versus placebo was 3.2 percentage points (95% confidence interval [CI], -0.4 to 7.0; P=0.08); for lidocaine versus placebo, 2.6 percentage points (95% CI, -1.0 to 6.3; P=0.16); and for amiodarone versus lidocaine, 0.7 percentage points (95% CI, -3.2 to 4.7; P=0.70). Neurologic outcome at discharge was similar in the three groups. There was heterogeneity of treatment effect with respect to whether the arrest was witnessed (P=0.05); active drugs were associated with a survival rate that was significantly higher than the rate with placebo among patients with bystander-witnessed arrest but not among those with unwitnessed arrest. More amiodarone recipients required temporary cardiac pacing than did recipients of lidocaine or placebo. Conclusions Overall, neither amiodarone nor lidocaine resulted in a significantly higher rate of survival or favorable neurologic outcome than the rate with placebo among patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest due to initial shock-refractory ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01401647 .).

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Cardiac arrest, Ventricular tachycardia, Supraventricular tachycardia, Amiodarone, Ventricular fibrillation, Defibrillation

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Background Recent advances have enabled noninvasive mapping of cardiac arrhythmias with electrocardiographic imaging and noninvasive delivery of precise ablative radiation with stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). We combined these techniques to perform catheter-free, electrophysiology-guided, noninvasive cardiac radioablation for ventricular tachycardia. Methods We targeted arrhythmogenic scar regions by combining anatomical imaging with noninvasive electrocardiographic imaging during ventricular tachycardia that was induced by means of an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). SBRT simulation, planning, and treatments were performed with the use of standard techniques. Patients were treated with a single fraction of 25 Gy while awake. Efficacy was assessed by counting episodes of ventricular tachycardia, as recorded by ICDs. Safety was assessed by means of serial cardiac and thoracic imaging. Results From April through November 2015, five patients with high-risk, refractory ventricular tachycardia underwent treatment. The mean noninvasive ablation time was 14 minutes (range, 11 to 18). During the 3 months before treatment, the patients had a combined history of 6577 episodes of ventricular tachycardia. During a 6-week postablation “blanking period” (when arrhythmias may occur owing to postablation inflammation), there were 680 episodes of ventricular tachycardia. After the 6-week blanking period, there were 4 episodes of ventricular tachycardia over the next 46 patient-months, for a reduction from baseline of 99.9%. A reduction in episodes of ventricular tachycardia occurred in all five patients. The mean left ventricular ejection fraction did not decrease with treatment. At 3 months, adjacent lung showed opacities consistent with mild inflammatory changes, which had resolved by 1 year. Conclusions In five patients with refractory ventricular tachycardia, noninvasive treatment with electrophysiology-guided cardiac radioablation markedly reduced the burden of ventricular tachycardia. (Funded by Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation and others.).

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Ejection fraction, Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, Cardiac arrest, Cardiac electrophysiology, Ventricular fibrillation, Cardiac dysrhythmia

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The mechanism by which the healthy heart and brain die rapidly in the absence of oxygen is not well understood. We performed continuous electrocardiography and electroencephalography in rats undergoing experimental asphyxia and analyzed cortical release of core neurotransmitters, changes in brain and heart electrical activity, and brain-heart connectivity. Asphyxia stimulates a robust and sustained increase of functional and effective cortical connectivity, an immediate increase in cortical release of a large set of neurotransmitters, and a delayed activation of corticocardiac functional and effective connectivity that persists until the onset of ventricular fibrillation. Blocking the brain’s autonomic outflow significantly delayed terminal ventricular fibrillation and lengthened the duration of detectable cortical activities despite the continued absence of oxygen. These results demonstrate that asphyxia activates a brainstorm, which accelerates premature death of the heart and the brain.

Concepts: Brain, Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Heart, Cardiac arrest, Asystole, Electroencephalography, Ventricular fibrillation