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Circ J. 2007;71 Suppl A:A106-14.

Risk stratification for sudden cardiac death.

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Second Department of Internal Medicine, Kyorin University School of Medicine, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-8611, Japan.


Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a leading cause of mortality in industrialized countries, and ventricular fibrillation and sustained ventricular tachycardia are the major causes of SCD. Although there are now effective devices and medications that can prevent such serious arrhythmias, it is crucial to have methods of identifying patients at risk. Numerous studies suggest that most patients dying of SCD have coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathy. Functional or electrophysiological measurements are effective in risk stratification. Left ventricular ejection fraction measured by echocardiography or cardiac imaging techniques is the gold standard to detect high-risk patients. Electrophysiological studies have also been used for risk stratification. Noninvasive techniques and measurements, such as T-wave alternans, signal-averaged electrocardiography, nonsustained ventricular tachycardia, heart rate variability, and heart rate turbulence, have been proposed as useful tools in identifying patients at risk for SCD. This article reviews the epidemiology, mechanisms, substrates, and current status of risk stratification of SCD.

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