Implantable defibrillators in primary prevention of genetic arrhythmias. A shocking choice?

Domenico Corrado, Mark S. Link, Peter J. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Many previously unexplained life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac deaths (SCDs) in young individuals are now recognized to be genetic in nature and are ascribed to a growing number of distinct inherited arrhythmogenic diseases. These include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy, long QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome, catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (VT), and short QT syndrome. Because of their lower frequency compared to coronary disease, risk factors for SCD are not very precise in patients with inherited arrhythmogenic diseases. As randomized studies are generally non-feasible and may even be ethically unjustifiable, especially in the presence of effective therapies, the risk assessment of malignant arrhythmic events such as SCD, cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation (VF), appropriate implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) interventions, or ICD therapy on fast VT/VF to guide ICD implantation is based on observational data and expert consensus. In this document, we review risk factors for SCD and indications for ICD implantation and additional therapies. What emerges is that, allowing for some important differences between cardiomyopathies and channelopathies, there is a growing and disquieting trend to create, and then use, semi-automated systems (risk scores, risk calculators, and, to some extent, even guidelines) which then dictate therapeutic choices. Their common denominator is a tendency to favour ICD implantation, sometime with reason, sometime without it. This contrasts with the time-honoured approach of selecting, among the available therapies, the best option (ICDs included) based on the clinical judgement for the specific patient and after having assessed the protection provided by optimal medical treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3029-3040
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean heart journal
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 21 2022


  • Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy
  • Brugada syndrome
  • Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator
  • Long QT syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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