Time trends in sudden cardiac death risk in heart failure patients with cardiac resynchronization therapy: a systematic review

Sérgio Barra, Rui Providência, Kumar Narayanan, Serge Boveda, Rudolf Duehmke, Rodrigue Garcia, Francisco Leyva, Véronique Roger, Xavier Jouven, Sharad Agarwal, Wayne C Levy, Eloi Marijon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While data from randomized trials suggest a declining incidence of sudden cardiac death (SCD) among heart failure patients, the extent to which such a trend is present among patients with cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) has not been evaluated. We therefore assessed changes in SCD incidence, and associated factors, in CRT recipients over the last 20 years.

Methods and results:
Literature search from inception to 30 April 2018 for observational and randomized studies involving CRT patients, with or without defibrillator, providing specific cause-of-death data. Sudden cardiac death was the primary endpoint. For each study, rate of SCD per 1000 patient-years of follow-up was calculated. Trend line graphs were subsequently constructed to assess change in SCD rates over time, which were further analysed by device type, patient characteristics, and medical therapy. Fifty-three studies, comprising 22 351 patients with 60 879 patient-years of follow-up and a total of 585 SCD, were included. There was a gradual decrease in SCD rates since the early 2000s in both randomized and observational studies, with rates falling more than four-fold. The rate of decline in SCD was steeper than that of all-cause mortality, and accordingly, the proportion of deaths which were due to SCD declined over the years. The magnitude of absolute decline in SCD was more prominent among CRT-pacemaker (CRT-P) patients compared to those receiving CRT-defibrillator (CRT-D), with the difference in SCD rates between CRT-P and CRT-D decreasing considerably over time. There was a progressive increase in age, use of beta-blockers, and left ventricular ejection fraction, and conversely, a decrease in QRS duration and antiarrhythmic drug use.

Sudden cardiac death rates have progressively declined in the CRT heart failure population over time, with the difference between CRT-D vs. CRT-P recipients narrowing considerably.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1976–1986
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Heart Journal
Issue number21
Early online date21 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • Sudden death
  • Cardiac resynchronization
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator
  • Biventricular pacemaker
  • Heart failure


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