Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

Declining risk of sudden death in heart failure

Professor John McMurray

New research published in the New England Journal of Medicine has concluded that the risk of sudden death from sudden cardiac failure has been almost halved over the past two decades as a result of a number of effective medications.

The research paper, ‘Declining Risk of Sudden Death in Heart Failure’, reported an analysis of data on more than 40,000 patients who had heart failure and were enrolled in one of 12 clinical trials between 1995 and 2014. The study found that rates of sudden death had declined by 44% over this period and that this decline paralleled the increased use of medications including beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors and mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists. Given the effectiveness of these medications, the overall benefit of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) may be uncertain.

The study’s senior author, Professor John McMurray MD, Professor of Cardiology at the University of Glasgow and Professorial Fellow at The MacKillop, told Scientist Live: ‘The low risk of sudden death in patients treated with a combination of effective medications reflects an extremely important improvement in outcomes for patients with heart failure. Indeed, when coupled with data from previous trials on the benefits and complications of ICDs, our findings question the need for and net benefit from an ICD in many patients treated with modern medical therapy’.

The study’s findings have been extensively reported, including in Scientist Live, Renal and Urology News and WebMD.

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