Hong Kong Med J 2003;9:357-62 | Number 5, October 2003
Sudden cardiac death: prevention and treatment
KM Kwok, KLF Lee, CP Lau, HF Tse
Cardiology Division, Department of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
Sudden cardiac death remains a major health issue in western countries as well as in Hong Kong. Despite increasing knowledge of the mechanisms and risk factors of sudden cardiac death, methods for identifying high-risk candidates and predicting the efficacy of measures to prevent sudden cardiac death are still inadequate. A significant proportion of patients have known heart disease but are generally considered to be at low risk for this event. More efforts are needed to improve the success rate of out-of-hospital resuscitation through better warning systems, the use of amiodarone for refractory arrhythmias, and the widespread availability of automated defibrillation devices to allow early defibrillation. It is likely that these measures could increase the number of survivors following cardiac arrest. In survivors of sudden cardiac death episodes, treatment of the underlying cardiac disease, especially early revascularisation for myocardial ischaemia, is required. In the majority of patients, implantation of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, with or without the use of an anti-arrhythmic drug such as amiodarone, would then be used to maintain survival. Furthermore, for individuals at significant risk of sudden cardiac death, primary prevention of sudden cardiac death through the placement of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator is increasingly being used.
Key words: Anti-arrhythmia agents; Cardiopulmonary resuscitation; Defibrillators, implantable; Heart arrest; Treatment outcome
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