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Importance - Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT) is a potentially lethal genetic arrhythmia syndrome characterized by polymorphic ventricular tachycardia with physical or emotional stress, for which current therapy with β-blockers is incompletely effective. Flecainide acetate directly suppresses sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium release-the cellular mechanism responsible for triggering ventricular arrhythmias in CPVT-but has never been assessed prospectively.
Objective - To determine whether flecainide dosed to therapeutic levels and added to β-blocker therapy is superior to β-blocker therapy alone for the prevention of exercise-induced arrhythmias in CPVT.
Design, Setting, and Participants - This investigator-initiated, multicenter, single-blind, placebo-controlled crossover clinical trial was conducted from December 19, 2011, through December 29, 2015, with a midtrial protocol change at 10 US sites. Patients with a clinical diagnosis of CPVT and an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator underwent a baseline exercise test while receiving maximally tolerated β-blocker therapy that was continued throughout the trial. Patients were then randomized to treatment A (flecainide or placebo) for 3 months, followed by exercise testing. After a 1-week washout period, patients crossed over to treatment B (placebo or flecainide) for 3 months, followed by exercise testing.
Interventions - Patients received oral flecainide or placebo twice daily, with the dosage guided by trough serum levels.
Main Outcomes and Measures - The primary end point of ventricular arrhythmias during exercise was compared between the flecainide and placebo arms. Exercise tests were scored on an ordinal scale of worst ventricular arrhythmia observed (0 indicates no ectopy; 1, isolated premature ventricular beats; 2, bigeminy; 3, couplets; and 4, nonsustained ventricular tachycardia).
Results - Of 14 patients (7 males and 7 females; median age, 16 years [interquartile range, 15.0-22.5 years]) randomized, 13 completed the study. The median baseline exercise test score was 3.0 (range, 0-4), with no difference noted between the baseline and placebo (median, 2.5; range, 0-4) exercise scores. The median ventricular arrhythmia score during exercise was significantly reduced by flecainide (0 [range, 0-2] vs 2.5 [range, 0-4] for placebo; P < .01), with complete suppression observed in 11 of 13 patients (85%). Overall and serious adverse events did not differ between the flecainide and placebo arms.
Conclusions and Relevance - In this randomized clinical trial of patients with CPVT, flecainide plus β-blocker significantly reduced ventricular ectopy during exercise compared with placebo plus β-blocker and β-blocker alone.
Trial Registration - clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01117454.
The QT interval, an electrocardiographic measure reflecting myocardial repolarization, is a heritable trait. QT prolongation is a risk factor for ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death (SCD) and could indicate the presence of the potentially lethal mendelian long-QT syndrome (LQTS). Using a genome-wide association and replication study in up to 100,000 individuals, we identified 35 common variant loci associated with QT interval that collectively explain ∼8-10% of QT-interval variation and highlight the importance of calcium regulation in myocardial repolarization. Rare variant analysis of 6 new QT interval-associated loci in 298 unrelated probands with LQTS identified coding variants not found in controls but of uncertain causality and therefore requiring validation. Several newly identified loci encode proteins that physically interact with other recognized repolarization proteins. Our integration of common variant association, expression and orthogonal protein-protein interaction screens provides new insights into cardiac electrophysiology and identifies new candidate genes for ventricular arrhythmias, LQTS and SCD.
Brugada syndrome is a rare cardiac arrhythmia disorder, causally related to SCN5A mutations in around 20% of cases. Through a genome-wide association study of 312 individuals with Brugada syndrome and 1,115 controls, we detected 2 significant association signals at the SCN10A locus (rs10428132) and near the HEY2 gene (rs9388451). Independent replication confirmed both signals (meta-analyses: rs10428132, P = 1.0 × 10(-68); rs9388451, P = 5.1 × 10(-17)) and identified one additional signal in SCN5A (at 3p21; rs11708996, P = 1.0 × 10(-14)). The cumulative effect of the three loci on disease susceptibility was unexpectedly large (Ptrend = 6.1 × 10(-81)). The association signals at SCN5A-SCN10A demonstrate that genetic polymorphisms modulating cardiac conduction can also influence susceptibility to cardiac arrhythmia. The implication of association with HEY2, supported by new evidence that Hey2 regulates cardiac electrical activity, shows that Brugada syndrome may originate from altered transcriptional programming during cardiac development. Altogether, our findings indicate that common genetic variation can have a strong impact on the predisposition to rare diseases.
PURPOSE - The opioid analgesic propoxyphene was withdrawn from the US market in 2010, motivated by concerns regarding fatality in overdose and adverse cardiac effects, including prolongation of the QT interval. These concerns were based on case reports, summary vital statistics, and surrogate endpoint studies.
METHODS - Using the linked Tennessee Medicaid database (1992-2007), we conducted a retrospective cohort study that compared risk of sudden cardiac, medication toxicity, and total out-of-hospital death for propoxyphene users with that for comparable nonusers of any prescribed opioid analgesic and users of hydrocodone, an opioid with similar indications. Cohort members had 1,873,500 propoxyphene prescriptions, 1,873,500 matched nonuser control periods, and 936,750 matched hydrocodone prescriptions.
RESULTS - Current propoxyphene users had no increased risk for sudden cardiac death (versus nonusers: hazard ratio [HR] = 1.00 [0.81-1.23]; versus current hydrocodone users: HR = 0.91 [0.68-1.21]) but did have increased risk for medication toxicity deaths (versus nonusers: HR = 1.85 [1.07-3.19], p = 0.027; versus current hydrocodone users: HR = 2.10 [0.87-5.10], p = 0.100). Because toxicity deaths were a small proportion of study deaths, total out-of-hospital mortality differed by less than 10% between the study groups and was not significantly elevated for propoxyphene (versus nonusers: HR = 1.09 [0.95-1.25]; versus current hydrocodone users: HR = 1.06 [0.87-1.29] ).
CONCLUSIONS - Our findings support the concern that propoxyphene has greater toxicity in overdose but do not provide evidence that it increases the risk of sudden cardiac death.
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
During the past few years, the development of effective, empirical technologies for treatment of cardiac arrhythmias has exceeded the pace at which detailed knowledge of the underlying biology has accumulated. As a result, although some clinical arrhythmias can be cured with techniques such as catheter ablation, drug treatment and prediction of the risk of sudden death remain fairly primitive. The identification of key candidate genes for monogenic arrhythmia syndromes shows that to bring basic biology to the clinic is a powerful approach. Increasingly sophisticated experimental models and methods of measurement, including stem cell-based models of human cardiac arrhythmias, are being deployed to study how perturbations in several biologic pathways can result in an arrhythmia-prone heart. The biology of arrhythmia is largely quantifiable, which allows for systematic analysis that could transform treatment strategies that are often still empirical into management based on molecular evidence.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND - To facilitate the use of automated databases for studies of sudden cardiac death, we previously developed a computerized case definition that had a positive predictive value between 86% and 88%. However, the definition has not been specifically validated for prescription opioid users, for whom out-of-hospital overdose deaths may be difficult to distinguish from sudden cardiac death.
FINDINGS - We assembled a cohort of persons 30-74 years of age prescribed propoxyphene or hydrocodone who had no life-threatening non-cardiovascular illness, diagnosed drug abuse, residence in a nursing home in the past year, or hospital stay within the past 30 days. Medical records were sought for a sample of 140 cohort deaths within 30 days of a prescription fill meeting the computer case definition. Of the 140 sampled deaths, 81 were adjudicated; 73 (90%) were sudden cardiac deaths. Two deaths had possible opioid overdose; after removing these two the positive predictive value was 88%.
CONCLUSIONS - These findings are consistent with our previous validation studies and suggest the computer case definition of sudden cardiac death is a useful tool for pharmacoepidemiologic studies of opioid analgesics.
BACKGROUND - Although several macrolide antibiotics are proarrhythmic and associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiac death, azithromycin is thought to have minimal cardiotoxicity. However, published reports of arrhythmias suggest that azithromycin may increase the risk of cardiovascular death.
METHODS - We studied a Tennessee Medicaid cohort designed to detect an increased risk of death related to short-term cardiac effects of medication, excluding patients with serious noncardiovascular illness and person-time during and shortly after hospitalization. The cohort included patients who took azithromycin (347,795 prescriptions), propensity-score-matched persons who took no antibiotics (1,391,180 control periods), and patients who took amoxicillin (1,348,672 prescriptions), ciprofloxacin (264,626 prescriptions), or levofloxacin (193,906 prescriptions).
RESULTS - During 5 days of therapy, patients taking azithromycin, as compared with those who took no antibiotics, had an increased risk of cardiovascular death (hazard ratio, 2.88; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.79 to 4.63; P<0.001) and death from any cause (hazard ratio, 1.85; 95% CI, 1.25 to 2.75; P=0.002). Patients who took amoxicillin had no increase in the risk of death during this period. Relative to amoxicillin, azithromycin was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular death (hazard ratio, 2.49; 95% CI, 1.38 to 4.50; P=0.002) and death from any cause (hazard ratio, 2.02; 95% CI, 1.24 to 3.30; P=0.005), with an estimated 47 additional cardiovascular deaths per 1 million courses; patients in the highest decile of risk for cardiovascular disease had an estimated 245 additional cardiovascular deaths per 1 million courses. The risk of cardiovascular death was significantly greater with azithromycin than with ciprofloxacin but did not differ significantly from that with levofloxacin.
CONCLUSIONS - During 5 days of azithromycin therapy, there was a small absolute increase in cardiovascular deaths, which was most pronounced among patients with a high baseline risk of cardiovascular disease. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics.).
BACKGROUND - Approximately 2 million people participate in long-distance running races in the United States annually. Reports of race-related cardiac arrests have generated concern about the safety of this activity.
METHODS - We assessed the incidence and outcomes of cardiac arrest associated with marathon and half-marathon races in the United States from January 1, 2000, to May 31, 2010. We determined the clinical characteristics of the arrests by interviewing survivors and the next of kin of nonsurvivors, reviewing medical records, and analyzing postmortem data.
RESULTS - Of 10.9 million runners, 59 (mean [±SD] age, 42-13 years; 51 men) had cardiac arrest (incidence rate, 0.54 per 100,000 participants; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.41 to 0.70). Cardiovascular disease accounted for the majority of cardiac arrests. The incidence rate was significantly higher during marathons (1.01 per 100,000; 95% CI, 0.72 to 1.38) than during half-marathons (0.27; 95% CI, 0.17 to 0.43) and among men (0.90 per 100,000; 95% CI, 0.67 to 1.18) than among women (0.16; 95% CI, 0.07 to 0.31). Male marathon runners, the highest-risk group, had an increased incidence of cardiac arrest during the latter half of the study decade (2000-2004, 0.71 per 100,000 [95% CI, 0.31 to 1.40]; 2005-2010, 2.03 per 100,000 [95% CI, 1.33 to 2.98]; P=0.01). Of the 59 cases of cardiac arrest, 42 (71%) were fatal (incidence, 0.39 per 100,000; 95% CI, 0.28 to 0.52). Among the 31 cases with complete clinical data, initiation of bystander-administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation and an underlying diagnosis other than hypertrophic cardiomyopathy were the strongest predictors of survival.
CONCLUSIONS - Marathons and half-marathons are associated with a low overall risk of cardiac arrest and sudden death. Cardiac arrest, most commonly attributable to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or atherosclerotic coronary disease, occurs primarily among male marathon participants; the incidence rate in this group increased during the past decade.