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Evaluation and treatment of ventricular arrhythmias: an update.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Clinical pharmacy
Publication Date
Volume
10
Issue
3
Pages
195–205
Identifiers
PMID: 2040126
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

An overall approach to evaluating and treating ventricular arrhythmias based on objective monitoring criteria is described. A clinically useful system classifies patients based on whether their ventricular arrhythmias are benign, potentially lethal, or lethal. Some clinicians believe that antiarrhythmic drug therapy improves survival in patients with potentially lethal arrhythmias. However, disappointing results from the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial have led to a greater awareness of the potential adverse effects of antiarrhythmics. Various risk factors for arrhythmia-related death have been identified, such as the presence of frequent and complex ventricular ectopy, abnormal signal-averaged electrocardiography (SAECG) tracings, and poor left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). Antiarrhythmic drugs remain the primary mode of therapy for patients with recurrent symptomatic tachycardias. Antiarrhythmic drug efficacy has been evaluated by methods including symptom assessment, continuous ambulatory electrocardiographic monitoring (Holter monitoring), exercise testing, and invasive electrophysiologic testing. There may be an extremely wide range of effective serum concentrations for the class IA agents. Individual target concentrations of antiarrhythmic agents may be determined for individual patients and should assist the clinician in optimizing long-term antiarrhythmic drug therapy. The risk-to-benefit ratio of treatment should be weighed before antiarrhythmic drug therapy is begun, and careful, objective monitoring of drug efficacy should be performed. When pharmacologic treatment of ventricular arrhythmias is considered, treatment algorithms that incorporate LVEF measurements, Holter monitor recordings, and SAECG may aid the clinician.

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