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Am J Cardiol. 1991 Jan 15;67(2):169-74.

Sudden death during empiric amiodarone therapy in symptomatic hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

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Cardiology Branch, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Amiodarone is reported to improve symptoms and to prevent sudden death in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HC). Amiodarone treatment (loading dose 30 g given over 6 weeks; maintenance dose 400 mg/day) was prospectively evaluated in 50 patients with HC in whom the drug was initiated because of symptoms refractory to conventional drug therapy (calcium antagonists and beta blockers). Twenty-one (42%) patients had ventricular tachycardia (VT) during Holter monitoring. Amiodarone significantly and often markedly improved the patients' New York Heart Association functional class status (from 3.3 to 2.7 at 2 months, p less than 0.001) and treadmill exercise duration (p less than 0.001). Eight patients, however, died (7 suddenly) during a mean follow-up period of 2.2 +/- 1.8 years. Of the 7 sudden deaths, 6 occurred within 5 months of initiation of treatment. The 6-month and 1- and 2-year survival rates were 87, 85 and 80%, respectively. The survival rate of patients with VT was significantly worse than that of patients without VT (61 vs 97% at 2 years; p less than 0.01). Sudden death occurred despite abolition of VT on Holter monitoring. Amiodarone increased left ventricular peak filling rate by radionuclide angiography in 20 of 33 patients (61%) (p less than 0.01). Decrease in peak left ventricular filling rate within 10 days of amiodarone therapy (8 of 33 patients) was associated with subsequent sudden death (p less than 0.04).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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