Send to

Choose Destination
Circulation. 2000 Aug 15;102(7):742-7.

Treating electrical storm : sympathetic blockade versus advanced cardiac life support-guided therapy.

Author information

Electrophysiology and Pacing Center, Division of Cardiology, School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA.



Electrical storm (ES), defined as recurrent multiple ventricular fibrillation (VF) episodes, often occurs in patients with recent myocardial infarction. Because treating ES according to the Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) guidelines yields a poor outcome, we evaluated the efficacy of sympathetic blockade in treating ES patients and compared their outcome with that of patients treated according to the ACLS guidelines.


Forty-nine patients (36 men, 13 women, mean age 57+/-10 years) who had ES associated with a recent myocardial infarction were separated into 2 groups. Patients in group 1 (n=27) received sympathetic blockade treatment: 6 left stellate ganglionic blockade, 7 esmolol, and 14 propranolol. Patients in group 2 (n=22) received antiarrhythmic medication as recommended by the ACLS guidelines. Patient characteristics were similar in the 2 groups. The 1-week mortality rate was higher in group 2: 18 (82%) of the 22 patients died, all of refractory VF; 6 (22%) of the 27 group 1 patients died, 3 of refractory VF (P<0.0001). Patients who survived the initial ES event did well over the 1-year follow-up period: Overall survival in group 1 was 67%, compared with 5% in group 2 (P<0.0001).


Sympathetic blockade is superior to the antiarrhythmic therapy recommended by the ACLS guidelines in treating ES patients. Our study emphasizes the role of increased sympathetic activity in the genesis of ES. Sympathetic blockade-not class 1 antiarrhythmic drugs-should be the treatment of choice for ES.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center