Objective: To describe and evaluate the in-hospital treatment of ventricular arrhythmias and underlying structural heart disease in patients who survive ventricular fibrillation (VF) out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) in a region with a high survival rate after hospital discharge. Patients and Methods: The study included all patients presenting in Olmsted County, Minnesota, who had experienced OHCA between November 1990 and December 2000 and who underwent defibrillation of VF by an emergency medical service system. Results: Of 200 patients who experienced VF arrest, 138 (69%) survived to hospital admission (7 died in the emergency department before admission), and 79 (40%) were discharged. Of patients who were discharged, 37 (47%) had a reversible cause of the arrest (perimyocardial infarction) and received treatment of the primary process. The other 42 patients who were discharged had ischemic coronary heart disease (CHD) (n=25), nonischemic CHD (n=10), or idiopathic VF (n=7). Four of the patients with CHD but no left ventricular dysfunction were treated with coronary artery bypass grafting or percutaneous coronary intervention alone. A total of 52 patients (66%) were candidates for electrophysiologic testing. Of these patients, 48 (92%) underwent electrophysiologic testing; of these patients, 10 received amiodarone alone, and 35 received an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) (of whom 3 also received amiodarone). Patients who did not receive ICD therapy typically presented before 1998 with CHD and underwent coronary artery bypass grafting or percutaneous coronary intervention only. Of 79 patients who were discharged, 14 (18%) with an ICD have received subsequent shocks. Nineteen (24%) of 79 patients have died, 5 of a primary cardiac etiology (including 2 with repeated OHCA). Conclusions: The VF OHCA survival rate is high in the setting of rapid defibrillation, with 40% of patients being discharged from the hospital. By the end of the 10-year study, more patients were receiving antiarrhythmic therapy, in particular ICD implantation, after hospital admission. Overall, the long-term survival in patients with VF OHCA is favorable.
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