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Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2000 Nov;9(11):2543-54.

Therapeutic developments in sudden cardiac death.

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Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA.


Sudden cardiac death is characterised by the unexpected death of a patient who has been clinically stable. It is frequently due to the development of ventricular tachyarrhythmias. With appropriate treatment, patients can be appropriately resuscitated. Clinically, it is essential to develop treatment strategies to prevent such an episode, as most patients do not survive out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. beta-Blockers are an effective pharmacological therapy in patients following myocardial infarction and in those with congestive heart failure. They may also be effective in other types of heart disease. Anti-arrhythmic agents are not useful as prophylactic drug therapy for reducing mortality in patients at risk for sudden cardiac death. Amiodarone is a notable exception, which may have some benefit, particularly in some subgroups. The implantable cardioverter-defibrillator has emerged as the most effective therapy for preventing sudden cardiac death in high-risk patients. Further work is required to enhance the characterisation of high-risk patients. Genetic analyses in patients with cardiovascular disorders may also identify new approaches to the prevention of sudden cardiac death.

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