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Feasibility/eligibility of T-wave alternans testing in patients with heart failure: should we rethink our current modus operandi?: reply

British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Research CentreUniversity of Glasgow126 University PlaceGlasgow G12 8TAUK.
European Journal of Heart Failure (Impact Factor: 6.58). 04/2012; 14(6). DOI: 10.1093/eurjhf/hfs050
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Observational studies in selected populations have suggested that microvolt T-wave alternans (MTWA) testing may identify patients with heart failure (HF) at risk of sudden cardiac death. The aims of this study were to investigate the utility of MTWA testing in an unselected population of patients with HF and to evaluate the clinical characteristics associated with the MTWA results. A total of 1003 patients hospitalized with decompensated HF were enrolled. MTWA testing was planned 1 month post-discharge; 648 patients returned for MTWA testing. Mean age was 70.8 ± 10.6 years and 58% were male. Of these patients who returned, 318 (49%) were ineligible for MTWA testing due to atrial fibrillation (AF), pacemaker dependency, or physical inability to undertake the test. Of the MTWA tests, 100 (30%) were positive, 78 (24%) were negative, and 152 (46%) were indeterminate; 112/152 indeterminate tests (74%) occurred because of failure to achieve target heart rate (HR) due to chronotropic incompetence or physical limitations. There were differences in patient characteristics according to MTWA result. Independent predictors of a negative result included younger age and higher left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). Independent predictors of a positive result included higher HR during MTWA testing and lower LVEF. Independent predictors of an indeterminate result included older age and history of previous/paroxysmal AF. Only half of patients with HF are eligible for MTWA testing and the most common result is an indeterminate test. Patients with positive and indeterminate tests have different clinical characteristics. MTWA treadmill testing is not widely applicable in typical HF patients and is unlikely to refine risk stratification for sudden death on a population level.
    European Journal of Heart Failure 02/2012; 14(4):377-86. DOI:10.1093/eurjhf/hfs010 · 6.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies have demonstrated that microvolt T-wave alternans (TWA) screening in patients with ischaemic and dilated cardiomyopathy is effective in identifying patients at high or low risk of sudden cardiac death. It remains unclear which percentage of potential recipients of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) are able to perform TWA testing using an exercise protocol which is, at this moment, the golden standard. In this study, we evaluated the feasibility of TWA in the risk stratification of potential ICD recipients with ischaemic or dilated cardiomyopathy. Medical charts of 165 primary prevention ICD recipients were reviewed to decide if patients were able to perform a TWA exercise test or not. Reasons to waiver a test were: atrial fibrillation or flutter, pacemaker dependency, recent (cardiovascular) surgery (<1 month) and inability to exercise. Of the potential ICD recipients 35% had one or more of these contraindications and were therefore not suitable for testing. In several studies, TWA is a promising risk stratifier for predicting sudden cardiac death; however, in our population, 35% of the potential ICD candidates could not be tested. In order to fulfil its promise as a predictor for SCD, an alternative means to measure TWA needs to be evaluated.
    Netherlands heart journal: monthly journal of the Netherlands Society of Cardiology and the Netherlands Heart Foundation 01/2011; 19(1):6-9. DOI:10.1007/s12471-010-0053-5 · 2.26 Impact Factor