Background: Improved survival after prophylactic implantation of a defibrillator in patients with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction (EF) after myocardial infarction (MI) has been demonstrated in patients who experienced remote MIs in the 1990s. The absolute survival benefit conferred by this recommended strategy must be related to the current risk of arrhythmic death, which is evolving. This study evaluates the mortality rate in survivors of MI with impaired left ventricular function and its relation to pre-hospital discharge baseline characteristics.
Methods: The clinical records of patients who had sustained an acute MI between 1999 and 2000 and had been discharged from the hospital with an EF of ≤ 40% were included. Baseline characteristics, drug prescriptions, and invasive procedures were recorded. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed using a primary end point of total mortality.
Results: One hundred sixty-five patients were included. During a median follow-up period of 30 months (interquartile range, 22 to 36 months) 18 patients died. The 1-year and 2-year mortality rates were 6.7% and 8.6%, respectively. Variables reflecting coronary artery disease and its management (ie, prior MI, acute reperfusion, and complete revascularization) had a greater impact on mortality than variables reflecting mechanical dysfunction (ie, EF and Killip class).
Conclusions: The mortality rate among survivors of MIs with reduced EF was substantially lower than that reported in the 1990s. The strong decrease in the arrhythmic risk implies a proportional increase in the number of patients needed to treat with a prophylactic defibrillator to prevent one adverse event. The risk of an event may even be sufficiently low to limit the detectable benefit of defibrillators in patients with the prognostic features identified in our study. This argues for additional risk stratification prior to the prophylactic implantation of a defibrillator.