Consensus reached on new guidelines for ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death

BETHESDA, Aug. 21 The 2006 Guidelines for Management of Patients with Ventricular Arrhythmias and the Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) were released today by the American College of Cardiology (ACC), American Heart Association (AHA), and the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) in collaboration with the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) and the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS). The purpose of this document is to update and combine the previously published recommendations into one source approved by the major cardiology organizations in the United States and Europe. This document completes the triad of arrhythmia-based guideline topics cosponsored by the ACC, AHA and ESC. In addition to ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death, management of patients with supraventricular arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation have also been addressed in separate documents.

Ventricular arrhythmias (VA) are abnormal rapid heart rhythms (arrhythmias) that originate in the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles) and often lead to SCD.

In 90 percent of adult victims of sudden cardiac death, two or more major coronary arteries are narrowed by fatty buildups. Scarring from a prior heart attack is found in two-thirds of victims. When sudden death occurs in young adults, other heart abnormalities are more likely causes including genetic diseases. Adrenaline released during intense physical or athletic activity often acts as a trigger for SCD when these abnormalities are present. Under certain conditions, various heart medications and other drugs as well as illegal drug abuse can lead to abnormal heart rhythms that cause sudden death.

The term "massive heart attack" is often wrongly used outside the physician community to describe sudden death. The term "heart attack" refers to death of heart muscle tissue due to the loss of blood supply and therefore oxygen, not necessarily resulting in a cardiac arrest or the death of the he

Contact: Amy Murphy
American College of Cardiology

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