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Circulation. 2000 Aug 15;102(7):748-54.

Randomized comparison of antiarrhythmic drug therapy with implantable defibrillators in patients resuscitated from cardiac arrest : the Cardiac Arrest Study Hamburg (CASH).

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  • 1St Georg Hospital, Hamburg, Germany.



We conducted a prospective, multicenter, randomized comparison of implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) versus antiarrhythmic drug therapy in survivors of cardiac arrest secondary to documented ventricular arrhythmias.


From 1987, eligible patients were randomized to an ICD, amiodarone, propafenone, or metoprolol (ICD versus antiarrhythmic agents randomization ratio 1:3). Assignment to propafenone was discontinued in March 1992, after an interim analysis conducted in 58 patients showed a 61% higher all-cause mortality rate than in 61 ICD patients during a follow-up of 11.3 months. The study continued to recruit 288 patients in the remaining 3 study groups; of these, 99 were assigned to ICDs, 92 to amiodarone, and 97 to metoprolol. The primary end point was all-cause mortality. The study was terminated in March 1998, when all patients had concluded a minimum 2-year follow-up. Over a mean follow-up of 57+/-34 months, the crude death rates were 36.4% (95% CI 26.9% to 46.6%) in the ICD and 44.4% (95% CI 37.2% to 51.8%) in the amiodarone/metoprolol arm. Overall survival was higher, though not significantly, in patients assigned to ICD than in those assigned to drug therapy (1-sided P=0.081, hazard ratio 0.766, [97.5% CI upper bound 1.112]). In ICD patients, the percent reductions in all-cause mortality were 41.9%, 39.3%, 28. 4%, 27.7%, 22.8%, 11.4%, 9.1%, 10.6%, and 24.7% at years 1 to 9 of follow-up.


During long-term follow-up of cardiac arrest survivors, therapy with an ICD is associated with a 23% (nonsignificant) reduction of all-cause mortality rates when compared with treatment with amiodarone/metoprolol. The benefit of ICD therapy is more evident during the first 5 years after the index event.

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