Habitual cocaine use is associated with high defibrillation threshold during ICD implantation

Jay Chen, R. Haris Naseem, Owen Obel, Jose A. Joglar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Cocaine Use is Associated with a High Defibrillation Threshold. Background: Habitual cocaine use can lead to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and sudden cardiac death. Based on prior clinical observations, we hypothesized that prior habitual cocaine use is a strong predictor of high defibrillation threshold (DFT) during implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) implant. Methods: We reviewed the medical records of 130 consecutive patients undergoing initial ICD implantation or revision at Parkland Hospital and the Dallas VA Hospital, Dallas, TX, from January 2002 to November 2005. Patient characteristics and DFT data were collected retrospectively. Results: The study group includes 11 patients (8.46%) who were identified as having a history of prior habitual cocaine use as demonstrated by history and urine toxicology; the rest (119 patients) form the control group. Cocaine-using patients tended to be younger (48.2 ± 10 vs 60.1 ± 12.3 years; P = 0.0026), were less likely to have coronary disease (36.3% vs 72.2%; P = 0.032), and had less comorbidity. The average DFT was 27.9 ± 7.8 J for all cocaine-using patients and 14.5 ± 4.1 J for noncocaine-using patients (P = 0.00018). In the cocaine-using group, three out of 11 patients required a subcutaneous array compared to none in the control group. Conclusions: Our results suggest that patients with a history of habitual cocaine use may be at increased risk to have a high DFT during ICD implantation. This is the first study to demonstrate such association. ICD implantation in patients with this history should be planned with these findings in mind, as larger output generators or subcutaneous arrays might be required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)722-725
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Cocaine
  • Defibrillation
  • Implantable cardioverter- defibrillator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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