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Post-MI Ventricular Arrhythmia Increases Death Risk Sixfold

Identifying those at high risk could greatly improve outcomes

WEDNESDAY, April 12 (HealthDay News) -- Ventricular arrhythmias (VA) are common after myocardial infarction (MI) and increase mortality risk sixfold, according to a study published in the April issue of the American Heart Journal.

Danielle M. Henkel, M.D., of the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues analyzed data on 2,317 people with incident MI recorded between 1979 and 1998, and categorized ventricular arrhythmias as primary ventricular fibrillation (VF), nonprimary VF and ventricular tachycardia (VT).

In all, 7.5 percent of the sample experienced VA, of which 3.6 percent were nonprimary VF, 2.1 percent primary VF and 1.8 percent VT. Factors associated with VA were younger age, female sex, higher Killip class, ST elevation and atrial fibrillation. The condition was associated with increased risk of death at 30 days but did not have an effect on mortality rates over a longer time frame. There was a decline in the incidence of VF over time, but there was no change in the incidence of VT.

"Ventricular arrhythmia after MI was associated with a sixfold increase in mortality. Thus, identification of high-risk MI survivors and prevention of VA could markedly improve outcomes," the authors conclude.

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