Vol 78, No 3 (2020)
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Published online: 2020-01-28

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Malignant ventricular arrhythmias and other complications of untreated accessory pathways: an analysis of prevalence and risk factors in over 600 ablation cases

Paweł Moskal, Marek Jastrzębski, Maciej Pitak, Kamil Fijorek, Piotr Weryński, Danuta Czarnecka
Pubmed: 31994490
Kardiol Pol 2020;78(3):203-208.


Background: The presence of accessory pathways (APs) is a risk factor for sudden cardiac death and other clinical complications.

Aims: We aimed to characterize all adverse events likely related to the presence of APs in patients referred for AP ablation and to identify risk factors for malignant arrhythmias.

Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of consecutive patients referred for AP ablation from 2002 to 2017. Electrocardiograms, electrophysiological system records, and hospital discharge notes were reviewed. We collected data concerning symptoms before ablation, occurrence of ventricular fibrillation or malignant atrial fibrillation (AF), as well as other complications related to APs.

Results: We identified 602 patients with APs. Serious AP‑related events were observed in 41 patients, including 14 sudden cardiac arrests (1 death) and 16 pre–cardiac arrest events. Other complications included strokes, pulmonary edema, heart failure, and unnecessary device implantation. The risk of malignant arrhythmias decreased with a longer shortest preexcited RR interval (per 10 ms: odds ratio [OR], 1.3; 95% CI, 1.16–1.47) and increased with age (per 10 years: OR, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.06–1.57). The presence of inducible AF, but not sole atrioventricular reentrant tachycardia, increased the risk for malignant arrhythmias when compared with patients without any inducible arrhythmias.

Conclusions: Patients with APs referred for ablation commonly present with various adverse events. The predictive value of clinical risk factors for malignant arrhythmias is too low to prevent devastating consequences. When high safety and efficacy of AP ablation are ensured, even a low risk of sudden death is unacceptable and a lower threshold for prophylactic ablation should be used to prevent AP‑related adverse events.

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Polish Heart Journal (Kardiologia Polska)