• Vol. 39 No. 3, 237–246
  • 15 March 2010

Risk Stratification for Sudden Cardiac Death after Acute Myocardial Infarction



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Many patients who survive an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) remain at risk of recurrent cardiac events and sudden cardiac death after discharge, despite optimal medical treatment. Assessment of the degree of left ventricular dysfunction and residual myocardial ischaemia is useful to identify the patients at greatest risk. In addition, there is increasing evidence that a number of other cardiovascular tests can be used to detect autonomic dysfunction and myocardial substrate abnormalities postAMI that increase the risk of life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias. These investigations include ECG-based tests (signal averaged ECG and T-wave alternans), Holter-based recordings (heart rate variability and heart rate turbulence) and imaging techniques (echocardiography and cardiac magnetic resonance), as well as invasive electrophysiological testing. This article reviews the current evidence for the use of these additional cardiac investigations among survivors of AMI to aid in their risk stratification for malignant ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.

In today’s modern era of evidence-based medicine and interventional cardiology, most patients who suffer an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) are started on medication with proven prognostic benefit [e.g. β-blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE)-inhibitors and statins] and undergo coronary angiography with revascularisation as dictated by their presentation and symptoms.

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