The importance of a comprehensive evaluation of survivors of cardiac arrest

The importance of a comprehensive evaluation of survivors of cardiac arrest This editorial refers to ‘Characteristics and clinical assessment of unexplained sudden cardiac arrest in the real-world setting: focus on idiopathic ventricular fibrillation’†, by V. Waldmann et al., on page 1981. In the absence of structural heart disease, an apparently unexplained cardiac arrest includes an eclectic compilation of latent causes, including long QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome, early repolarization syndrome, and several structural causes. After comprehensive assessment, about half of patients with unexplained cardiac arrest will have a specific aetiology identified, with the remaining indeterminate cases labelled ‘idiopathic ventricular fibrillation’ (IVF).1 In this issue of the journal, Waldmann et al. report the medical evaluation and outcomes among a Parisian cohort of 717 cardiac arrest survivors, focusing on those patients who remained undiagnosed after diagnostic testing.2 Among patients labeled IVF (49 patients), only 16% received a comprehensive assessment, defined as cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR), ergonovine challenge, and pharmacological testing. Although most patients underwent CMR (82%), genetic testing was performed in less than one-fifth and exercise testing in less than one-tenth of individuals. Importantly, family screening occurred in less than a quarter of patients. The authors’ findings highlight the importance of a comprehensive systematic evaluation of cardiac arrest survivors, and gaps in the current delivery of guideline-directed unexplained cardiac arrest assessment. Current guidelines in unexplained cardiac arrest evaluation The current guidelines provide direction but do not fully specify the necessary scope of investigations in a unexplained cardiac arrest survivor, and the Parisian experience reflects a systematic underinvestigation of unexplained cardiac arrest, probably due to both unfamiliarity and the breadth of diagnoses encountered in these patients.3–5 Although a comprehensive evaluation of first-degree relatives can be useful (Class IIa recommendation), no explicit recommendations are made for unexplained cardiac arrest survivors.3–5 Provocative drug challenges with sodium channel blockers (i.e. ajmaline) may be criticized for their poor specificity,6 and the sensitivity of the ergonovine test for coronary vasospasm is controversial.7 Thus, such investigations should only be performed in the appropriate clinical context at experienced multidisciplinary clinics, and in close collaboration with relevant partner experts from imaging, adult and paediatric electrophysiology, and medical genetics. A prospective, comprehensive assessment for structural and electrical diseases should be undertaken (Figure 1), with imaging, provocative tests, genetic testing, and family screening performed in parallel (i.e. diagnosed patients may still benefit from additional genetic testing and family screening). Waldmann et al. present rates of medical investigations ranging from 4% (signal-averaged ECG) to 82% (CMR).2 In the absence of a prospective, comprehensive evaluation of these individuals, we cannot know the true denominator among those labelled ‘idiopathic.’ How many patients could have received a diagnosis despite the apparently ‘unexplained’ cardiac arrest? Figure 1 View largeDownload slide Comprehensive evaluation of unexplained cardiac arrest. *Acetylcholine is used as an alternative agent to provoke coronary spasm. **Discretionary tests. ***Additional rare causes include malignant mitral valve prolapse, other infiltrative cardiomyopathies such as amyloidosis, and familial conduction system disease. MRI, magnetic resonance imaging; CT, computed tomography; PET, positron emission tomography; ARVC, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; HCM, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; DCM, dilated cardiomyopathy including inherited cardiomyopathies; CPVT, catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia; ERS, early repolarization syndrome; SCIVF, short coupled idiopathic ventricular fibrillation. Figure 1 View largeDownload slide Comprehensive evaluation of unexplained cardiac arrest. *Acetylcholine is used as an alternative agent to provoke coronary spasm. **Discretionary tests. ***Additional rare causes include malignant mitral valve prolapse, other infiltrative cardiomyopathies such as amyloidosis, and familial conduction system disease. MRI, magnetic resonance imaging; CT, computed tomography; PET, positron emission tomography; ARVC, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; HCM, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; DCM, dilated cardiomyopathy including inherited cardiomyopathies; CPVT, catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia; ERS, early repolarization syndrome; SCIVF, short coupled idiopathic ventricular fibrillation. Comprehensive evaluation after unexplained cardiac arrest A comprehensive evaluation has several key potential benefits. It can provide a diagnosis (and often ‘peace of mind’), manage or prevent recurrence, and facilitate family screening. Waldmann et al. should be commended for presenting their local data. With approximately one in eight patients receiving a complete evaluation, their findings highlight significant opportunity (and necessity) for improvement in translating evidence into the current healthcare delivery system. Advanced imaging and drug challenges to unmask latent channelopathies requires systematic broad testing to evaluate for a myriad of latent causes. In the Cardiac Arrest Survivors with Preserved Ejection Fraction Registry (CASPER), a complete evaluation unmasked the cause of an apparently unexplained cardiac arrest in half of the cases, with each investigation providing incremental diagnostic yield.1 For example, in 174 patients with unexplained cardiac arrest receiving systematic exercise testing, epinephrine, and sodium channel blocker challenges, testing was frequently positive for long QT syndrome (18%), catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (7%), and Brugada pattern (7%).8,9 Non-invasive testing was performed infrequently in the Parisian cohort (4% signal-averaged ECG, 8% exercise testing), despite the guidelines supporting their use.3–5 Electrophysiological studies were performed occasionally in the Parisian cohort (25%) and may be relevant in provoking bundle branch reentry,10 a novel occult cause of cardiac arrest being systematically investigated in the prospective EPS-ARREST study (NCT03079414). Advanced imaging is an important tool in the structural evaluation of patients with unexplained cardiac arrest after conventional testing is negative, with one-third of patients in the Parisian cohort receiving a diagnosis after CMR (and >80% of ‘IVF’ patients received CMR).2 These findings are consistent with the published experience for CMR, with 19% of patients receiving a diagnosis after CMR.11 Genetic testing was only performed in 18% of Parisian patients, despite studies showing that genetic testing can provide a diagnosis in 13–60% of patients after clinical evaluation.12 Among patients with unexplained cardiac arrest receiving genetic testing in CASPER, pathogenic variants were identified in 17% of patients along with frequent variants of unknown significance (18%).13 The emerging role of whole-exome sequencing may provide greater opportunities to identify genetic contributors in patients with a phenotype–genotype mismatch.14 Importance of family screening The importance of family screening after unexplained cardiac arrest cannot be overstated. Although arriving at a diagnosis in the affected individual is important, there are further benefits of family screening, including identifying relatives at risk, and to determine heritability and prevention planning. Among patients with sudden unexplained death syndrome (SUDS), expert consensus recommends that first-degree relatives, particularly obligate carriers and symptomatic relatives, should be prioritized for evaluation.3 In CASPER, family screening identified cardiac abnormalities in 30% of first-degree relatives.15 Genetic testing was performed in a quarter of family members, and disease-causing mutations were found in 20%.16 Waldmann et al. reported family screening in only 25% of patients.2 How many relatives would have benefited from comprehensive family screening? Arrhythmic outcomes Importantly, comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis may also allow for improved risk stratification and follow-up among patients with unexplained cardiac arrest. For example, a patient with early repolarization or Brugada syndrome should be informed that isoproterenol and quinidine are the treatment of choice for recurrent arrhythmia, with incorporation of these recommendations in their health record and ‘shock plan’. Waldmann et al. reported recurrent ventricular arrhythmias in 21.7% of patients over a median follow-up of 48.7 months (5.7% annual incidence rate).2 Patients with unexplained cardiac arrest in CASPER had a cumulative event rate (ICD shock or antitachycardia pacing) of 23% after 3.15 years follow-up.11 Patients receiving a diagnosis after comprehensive evaluation may be re-classified into a higher or lower risk group, and followed accordingly. Conversely, patients with no identifiable aetiology may have suffered a ‘one-and-done’ cardiac arrest, with a lower risk of recurrence. Further data are required in these uncommon diseases to better understand the natural history and merits of interventions based on diagnostic findings. Adoption of evidence into practice With a growing body of evidence supporting a comprehensive evaluation, it is necessary to develop the systems of care required to support these patients and facilitate the rapid adoption of evidence (and guidelines) into practice. What is the role of the physician experts at dedicated academic centres? The 2013 Consensus Statement on Inherited Arrhythmia Syndromes placed a Class I recommendation for the evaluation of patients and first-degree relatives with diagnosed or suspected inherited conditions to take place at a dedicated clinic (i.e. Inherited Arrhythmia Clinic).3 Clinical evaluation should be performed by a physician specialist in collaboration with genetic counsellors and allied health professionals. These recommendations recognize the emerging body of evidence and the role of the multidisciplinary clinics in incorporating this evidence into practice. With genetic testing becoming increasingly informative and expansive, involvement of genetic counsellors and/or medical geneticists is critical in the interpretation of both suspected and unexpected genetic results (i.e. variants of unknown significance). It is likely that the findings presented by Waldmann et al. are not limited to the Parisian health system, but reflect a systemic under-utilization of comprehensive evaluation and multidisciplinary inherited arrhythmia clinics. Role of patient advocacy In the face of gaps within our health system, it is common for patients and/or affected family members to draw attention to issues and gaps in care. In a qualitative survey of patient needs, patients seen at inherited arrhythmia clinics across Canada reported concerns including questions about their disease, access to specialists, and the lack of psychological support (unpublished data). Given the varying familiarity with inherited arrhythmia syndromes across our health system, patients and family members should be encouraged to seek answers from their physicians in the event of an unexplained cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death. In Canada, the Hearts In Rhythm Organization (HiRO, www.heartsinrhythm.ca) represents a combined physician–patient partnership to standardize care for patients and family members affected by inherited arrhythmia syndromes. By creating shared protocols and resources between inherited arrhythmia clinics, HiRO strives to ensure access to deliberately cultivated expert care. Conclusion Significant challenges remain in ensuring that cardiac arrest survivors undergo a systematic evaluation. This will lead to informed prevention and management of recurrence, family screening, and the peace of mind that follows resolved uncertainty. Waldmann et al. highlight the many gaps in care, beginning with the scattered and incomplete evaluation of patients, to the limited genetic testing and family screening. Cardiac arrest survivors should undergo a comprehensive series of investigations, ranging from provocative drug challenges to genetic testing (Figure 1). By identifying a diagnosis in previously unexplained cardiac arrest, we can potentially modify arrhythmia recurrence, identify at-risk family members, and provide support for survivors and families. Conflict of interest: A.D.K. receives support from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Sauder Family, the Heart and Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiology, and the Paul Brunes Chair in Heart Rhythm Disorders. C.C.C. has no relevant conflicts to disclose. References 1 Krahn AD , Healey JS , Chauhan V , Birnie DH , Simpson CS , Champagne J , Gardner M , Sanatani S , Exner DV , Klein GJ , Yee R , Skanes AC , Gula LJ , Gollob MH. Systematic assessment of patients with unexplained cardiac arrest: Cardiac Arrest Survivors With Preserved Ejection Fraction Registry (CASPER) . Circulation 2009 ; 120 : 278 – 285 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 2 Waldmann V , Bougouin W , Karam N , Dumas F , Sharifzadehgan A , Gandjbakhch E , Algalarrondo V , Narayanan K , Amet D , Jost D , Geri G , Lamhaut L , Beganton F , Ludes B , Bruneval P , Plu I , Hidden-Lucet F , Albuisson J , Lavergne T , Piot O , Leenhardt A , Lellouche N , Extramiana F , Cariou A , Jouven X , Marijon E , on behalf Paris-SDEC investigators. Characteristics and clinical assessment of unexplained sudden cardiac arrest in the real-world setting: focus on idiopathic ventricular fibrillation . Eur Heart J 2018 ; 39 : 1981 – 1987 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS 3 Priori SG , Wilde AA , Horie M , Cho Y , Behr ER , Berul C , Blom N , Brugada J , Chiang CE , Huikuri H , Kannankeril P , Krahn A , Leenhardt A , Moss A , Schwartz PJ , Shimizu W , Tomaselli G , Tracy C. HRS/EHRA/APHRS expert consensus statement on the diagnosis and management of patients with inherited primary arrhythmia syndromes: document endorsed by HRS, EHRA, and APHRS in May 2013 and by ACCF, AHA, PACES, and AEPC in June 2013 . Heart Rhythm 2013 ; 10 : 1932 – 1963 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 4 Priori SG , Blomström-Lundqvist C , Mazzanti A , Blom N , Borggrefe M , Camm J , Elliott PM , Fitzsimons D , Hatala R , Hindricks G , Kirchhof P , Kjeldsen K , Kuck KH , Hernandez-Madrid A , Nikolaou N , Norekvål TM , Spaulding C , Van Veldhuisen DJ. 2015 ESC Guidelines for the management of patients with ventricular arrhythmias and the prevention of sudden cardiac death: The Task Force for the Management of Patients with Ventricular Arrhythmias and the Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). Endorsed by: Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology (AEPC) . Eur Heart J 2015 ; 36 : 2793 – 2867 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 5 Al-Khatib SM , Stevenson WG , Ackerman MJ , Bryant WJ , Callans DJ , Curtis AB , Deal BJ , Dickfeld T , Field ME , Fonarow GC , Gillis AM , Hlatky MA , Granger CB , Hammill SC , Joglar JA , Kay GN , Matlock DD , Myerburg RJ , Page RL. 2017 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for Management of Patients With Ventricular Arrhythmias and the Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death. A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society . Circulation 2017 ;doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000549. 6 Viskin S , Rosso R , Friedensohn L , Havakuk O , Wilde AA. Everybody has Brugada syndrome until proven otherwise? Heart Rhythm 2015 ; 12 : 1595 – 1598 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 7 Sueda S , Miyoshi T , Sasaki Y , Sakaue T , Habara H , Kohno H. Gender differences in sensitivity of acetylcholine and ergonovine to coronary spasm provocation test . Heart Vessels 2016 ; 31 : 322 – 329 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 8 Somani R , Krahn AD , Healey JS , Chauhan VS , Birnie DH , Champagne J , Sanatani S , Angaran P , Gow RM , Chakrabarti S , Gerull B , Yee R , Skanes AC , Gula LJ , Leong-Sit P , Klein GJ , Gollob MH , Talajic M , Gardner M , Simpson CS. Procainamide infusion in the evaluation of unexplained cardiac arrest: from the Cardiac Arrest Survivors with Preserved Ejection Fraction Registry (CASPER) . Heart Rhythm 2014 ; 11 : 1047 – 1054 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 9 Krahn AD , Healey JS , Chauhan VS , Birnie DH , Champagne J , Sanatani S , Ahmad K , Ballantyne E , Gerull B , Yee R , Skanes AC , Gula LJ , Leong-Sit P , Klein GJ , Gollob MH , Simpson CS , Talajic M , Gardner M. Epinephrine infusion in the evaluation of unexplained cardiac arrest and familial sudden death: from the cardiac arrest survivors with preserved Ejection Fraction Registry . Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol 2012 ; 5 : 933 – 940 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 10 Roberts JD , Gollob MH , Young C , Connors SP , Gray C , Wilton SB , Green MS , Zhu DW , Hodgkinson KA , Poon A , Li Q , Orr N , Tang AS , Klein GJ , Wojciak J , Campagna J , Olgin JE , Badhwar N , Vedantham V , Marcus GM , Kwok PY , Deo RC , Scheinman MM. Bundle branch reentrant ventricular tachycardia: novel genetic mechanisms in a life-threatening arrhythmia . JACC Clin Electrophysiol 2017 ; 3 : 276 – 288 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 11 Herman AR , Cheung C , Gerull B , Simpson CS , Birnie DH , Klein GJ , Champagne J , Healey JS , Gibbs K , Talajic M , Gardner M , Bennett MT , Steinberg C , Janzen M , Gollob MH , Angaran P , Yee R , Leather R , Chakrabarti S , Sanatani S , Chauhan VS , Krahn AD. Outcome of apparently unexplained cardiac arrest: results from investigation and follow-up of the Prospective Cardiac Arrest Survivors With Preserved Ejection Fraction Registry . Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol 2016 ; 9 : e003619 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 12 Kumar S , Peters S , Thompson T , Morgan N , Maccicoca I , Trainer A , Zentner D , Kalman JM , Winship I , Vohra JK. Familial cardiological and targeted genetic evaluation: low yield in sudden unexplained death and high yield in unexplained cardiac arrest syndromes . Heart Rhythm 2013 ; 10 : 1653 – 1660 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 13 Mellor G , Laksman ZWM , Tadros R , Roberts JD , Gerull B , Simpson CS , Klein GJ , Champagne J , Talajic M , Gardner M , Steinberg C , Arbour L , Birnie DH , Angaran P , Leather R , Sanatani S , Chauhan VS , Seifer C , Healey JS , Krahn AD. Genetic testing in the evaluation of unexplained cardiac arrest: from the CASPER (Cardiac Arrest Survivors With Preserved Ejection Fraction Registry) . Circ Cardiovasc Genet 2017 ; 10 : e001686 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 14 Anderson JH , Tester DJ , Will ML , Ackerman MJ. Whole-exome molecular autopsy after exertion-related sudden unexplained death in the young . Circ Cardiovasc Genet 2016 ; 9 : 259 – 265 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 15 Steinberg C , Padfield GJ , Champagne J , Sanatani S , Angaran P , Andrade JG , Roberts JD , Healey JS , Chauhan VS , Birnie DH , Janzen M , Gerull B , Klein GJ , Leather R , Simpson CS , Seifer C , Talajic M , Gardner M , Krahn AD. Cardiac abnormalities in first-degree relatives of unexplained cardiac arrest victims: a report from the Cardiac Arrest Survivors With Preserved Ejection Fraction Registry . Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol 2016 ; 9 : e004274 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed Published on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology. All rights reserved. © The Author(s) 2018. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png European Heart Journal Oxford University Press

The importance of a comprehensive evaluation of survivors of cardiac arrest

Loading next page...
 
/lp/ou_press/the-importance-of-a-comprehensive-evaluation-of-survivors-of-cardiac-N39Q1kdRWT
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
Published on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology. All rights reserved. © The Author(s) 2018. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
ISSN
0195-668X
eISSN
1522-9645
D.O.I.
10.1093/eurheartj/ehy160
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This editorial refers to ‘Characteristics and clinical assessment of unexplained sudden cardiac arrest in the real-world setting: focus on idiopathic ventricular fibrillation’†, by V. Waldmann et al., on page 1981. In the absence of structural heart disease, an apparently unexplained cardiac arrest includes an eclectic compilation of latent causes, including long QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome, early repolarization syndrome, and several structural causes. After comprehensive assessment, about half of patients with unexplained cardiac arrest will have a specific aetiology identified, with the remaining indeterminate cases labelled ‘idiopathic ventricular fibrillation’ (IVF).1 In this issue of the journal, Waldmann et al. report the medical evaluation and outcomes among a Parisian cohort of 717 cardiac arrest survivors, focusing on those patients who remained undiagnosed after diagnostic testing.2 Among patients labeled IVF (49 patients), only 16% received a comprehensive assessment, defined as cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR), ergonovine challenge, and pharmacological testing. Although most patients underwent CMR (82%), genetic testing was performed in less than one-fifth and exercise testing in less than one-tenth of individuals. Importantly, family screening occurred in less than a quarter of patients. The authors’ findings highlight the importance of a comprehensive systematic evaluation of cardiac arrest survivors, and gaps in the current delivery of guideline-directed unexplained cardiac arrest assessment. Current guidelines in unexplained cardiac arrest evaluation The current guidelines provide direction but do not fully specify the necessary scope of investigations in a unexplained cardiac arrest survivor, and the Parisian experience reflects a systematic underinvestigation of unexplained cardiac arrest, probably due to both unfamiliarity and the breadth of diagnoses encountered in these patients.3–5 Although a comprehensive evaluation of first-degree relatives can be useful (Class IIa recommendation), no explicit recommendations are made for unexplained cardiac arrest survivors.3–5 Provocative drug challenges with sodium channel blockers (i.e. ajmaline) may be criticized for their poor specificity,6 and the sensitivity of the ergonovine test for coronary vasospasm is controversial.7 Thus, such investigations should only be performed in the appropriate clinical context at experienced multidisciplinary clinics, and in close collaboration with relevant partner experts from imaging, adult and paediatric electrophysiology, and medical genetics. A prospective, comprehensive assessment for structural and electrical diseases should be undertaken (Figure 1), with imaging, provocative tests, genetic testing, and family screening performed in parallel (i.e. diagnosed patients may still benefit from additional genetic testing and family screening). Waldmann et al. present rates of medical investigations ranging from 4% (signal-averaged ECG) to 82% (CMR).2 In the absence of a prospective, comprehensive evaluation of these individuals, we cannot know the true denominator among those labelled ‘idiopathic.’ How many patients could have received a diagnosis despite the apparently ‘unexplained’ cardiac arrest? Figure 1 View largeDownload slide Comprehensive evaluation of unexplained cardiac arrest. *Acetylcholine is used as an alternative agent to provoke coronary spasm. **Discretionary tests. ***Additional rare causes include malignant mitral valve prolapse, other infiltrative cardiomyopathies such as amyloidosis, and familial conduction system disease. MRI, magnetic resonance imaging; CT, computed tomography; PET, positron emission tomography; ARVC, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; HCM, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; DCM, dilated cardiomyopathy including inherited cardiomyopathies; CPVT, catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia; ERS, early repolarization syndrome; SCIVF, short coupled idiopathic ventricular fibrillation. Figure 1 View largeDownload slide Comprehensive evaluation of unexplained cardiac arrest. *Acetylcholine is used as an alternative agent to provoke coronary spasm. **Discretionary tests. ***Additional rare causes include malignant mitral valve prolapse, other infiltrative cardiomyopathies such as amyloidosis, and familial conduction system disease. MRI, magnetic resonance imaging; CT, computed tomography; PET, positron emission tomography; ARVC, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; HCM, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; DCM, dilated cardiomyopathy including inherited cardiomyopathies; CPVT, catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia; ERS, early repolarization syndrome; SCIVF, short coupled idiopathic ventricular fibrillation. Comprehensive evaluation after unexplained cardiac arrest A comprehensive evaluation has several key potential benefits. It can provide a diagnosis (and often ‘peace of mind’), manage or prevent recurrence, and facilitate family screening. Waldmann et al. should be commended for presenting their local data. With approximately one in eight patients receiving a complete evaluation, their findings highlight significant opportunity (and necessity) for improvement in translating evidence into the current healthcare delivery system. Advanced imaging and drug challenges to unmask latent channelopathies requires systematic broad testing to evaluate for a myriad of latent causes. In the Cardiac Arrest Survivors with Preserved Ejection Fraction Registry (CASPER), a complete evaluation unmasked the cause of an apparently unexplained cardiac arrest in half of the cases, with each investigation providing incremental diagnostic yield.1 For example, in 174 patients with unexplained cardiac arrest receiving systematic exercise testing, epinephrine, and sodium channel blocker challenges, testing was frequently positive for long QT syndrome (18%), catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (7%), and Brugada pattern (7%).8,9 Non-invasive testing was performed infrequently in the Parisian cohort (4% signal-averaged ECG, 8% exercise testing), despite the guidelines supporting their use.3–5 Electrophysiological studies were performed occasionally in the Parisian cohort (25%) and may be relevant in provoking bundle branch reentry,10 a novel occult cause of cardiac arrest being systematically investigated in the prospective EPS-ARREST study (NCT03079414). Advanced imaging is an important tool in the structural evaluation of patients with unexplained cardiac arrest after conventional testing is negative, with one-third of patients in the Parisian cohort receiving a diagnosis after CMR (and >80% of ‘IVF’ patients received CMR).2 These findings are consistent with the published experience for CMR, with 19% of patients receiving a diagnosis after CMR.11 Genetic testing was only performed in 18% of Parisian patients, despite studies showing that genetic testing can provide a diagnosis in 13–60% of patients after clinical evaluation.12 Among patients with unexplained cardiac arrest receiving genetic testing in CASPER, pathogenic variants were identified in 17% of patients along with frequent variants of unknown significance (18%).13 The emerging role of whole-exome sequencing may provide greater opportunities to identify genetic contributors in patients with a phenotype–genotype mismatch.14 Importance of family screening The importance of family screening after unexplained cardiac arrest cannot be overstated. Although arriving at a diagnosis in the affected individual is important, there are further benefits of family screening, including identifying relatives at risk, and to determine heritability and prevention planning. Among patients with sudden unexplained death syndrome (SUDS), expert consensus recommends that first-degree relatives, particularly obligate carriers and symptomatic relatives, should be prioritized for evaluation.3 In CASPER, family screening identified cardiac abnormalities in 30% of first-degree relatives.15 Genetic testing was performed in a quarter of family members, and disease-causing mutations were found in 20%.16 Waldmann et al. reported family screening in only 25% of patients.2 How many relatives would have benefited from comprehensive family screening? Arrhythmic outcomes Importantly, comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis may also allow for improved risk stratification and follow-up among patients with unexplained cardiac arrest. For example, a patient with early repolarization or Brugada syndrome should be informed that isoproterenol and quinidine are the treatment of choice for recurrent arrhythmia, with incorporation of these recommendations in their health record and ‘shock plan’. Waldmann et al. reported recurrent ventricular arrhythmias in 21.7% of patients over a median follow-up of 48.7 months (5.7% annual incidence rate).2 Patients with unexplained cardiac arrest in CASPER had a cumulative event rate (ICD shock or antitachycardia pacing) of 23% after 3.15 years follow-up.11 Patients receiving a diagnosis after comprehensive evaluation may be re-classified into a higher or lower risk group, and followed accordingly. Conversely, patients with no identifiable aetiology may have suffered a ‘one-and-done’ cardiac arrest, with a lower risk of recurrence. Further data are required in these uncommon diseases to better understand the natural history and merits of interventions based on diagnostic findings. Adoption of evidence into practice With a growing body of evidence supporting a comprehensive evaluation, it is necessary to develop the systems of care required to support these patients and facilitate the rapid adoption of evidence (and guidelines) into practice. What is the role of the physician experts at dedicated academic centres? The 2013 Consensus Statement on Inherited Arrhythmia Syndromes placed a Class I recommendation for the evaluation of patients and first-degree relatives with diagnosed or suspected inherited conditions to take place at a dedicated clinic (i.e. Inherited Arrhythmia Clinic).3 Clinical evaluation should be performed by a physician specialist in collaboration with genetic counsellors and allied health professionals. These recommendations recognize the emerging body of evidence and the role of the multidisciplinary clinics in incorporating this evidence into practice. With genetic testing becoming increasingly informative and expansive, involvement of genetic counsellors and/or medical geneticists is critical in the interpretation of both suspected and unexpected genetic results (i.e. variants of unknown significance). It is likely that the findings presented by Waldmann et al. are not limited to the Parisian health system, but reflect a systemic under-utilization of comprehensive evaluation and multidisciplinary inherited arrhythmia clinics. Role of patient advocacy In the face of gaps within our health system, it is common for patients and/or affected family members to draw attention to issues and gaps in care. In a qualitative survey of patient needs, patients seen at inherited arrhythmia clinics across Canada reported concerns including questions about their disease, access to specialists, and the lack of psychological support (unpublished data). Given the varying familiarity with inherited arrhythmia syndromes across our health system, patients and family members should be encouraged to seek answers from their physicians in the event of an unexplained cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death. In Canada, the Hearts In Rhythm Organization (HiRO, www.heartsinrhythm.ca) represents a combined physician–patient partnership to standardize care for patients and family members affected by inherited arrhythmia syndromes. By creating shared protocols and resources between inherited arrhythmia clinics, HiRO strives to ensure access to deliberately cultivated expert care. Conclusion Significant challenges remain in ensuring that cardiac arrest survivors undergo a systematic evaluation. This will lead to informed prevention and management of recurrence, family screening, and the peace of mind that follows resolved uncertainty. Waldmann et al. highlight the many gaps in care, beginning with the scattered and incomplete evaluation of patients, to the limited genetic testing and family screening. Cardiac arrest survivors should undergo a comprehensive series of investigations, ranging from provocative drug challenges to genetic testing (Figure 1). By identifying a diagnosis in previously unexplained cardiac arrest, we can potentially modify arrhythmia recurrence, identify at-risk family members, and provide support for survivors and families. Conflict of interest: A.D.K. receives support from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Sauder Family, the Heart and Stroke Foundation Chair in Cardiology, and the Paul Brunes Chair in Heart Rhythm Disorders. C.C.C. has no relevant conflicts to disclose. References 1 Krahn AD , Healey JS , Chauhan V , Birnie DH , Simpson CS , Champagne J , Gardner M , Sanatani S , Exner DV , Klein GJ , Yee R , Skanes AC , Gula LJ , Gollob MH. Systematic assessment of patients with unexplained cardiac arrest: Cardiac Arrest Survivors With Preserved Ejection Fraction Registry (CASPER) . Circulation 2009 ; 120 : 278 – 285 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 2 Waldmann V , Bougouin W , Karam N , Dumas F , Sharifzadehgan A , Gandjbakhch E , Algalarrondo V , Narayanan K , Amet D , Jost D , Geri G , Lamhaut L , Beganton F , Ludes B , Bruneval P , Plu I , Hidden-Lucet F , Albuisson J , Lavergne T , Piot O , Leenhardt A , Lellouche N , Extramiana F , Cariou A , Jouven X , Marijon E , on behalf Paris-SDEC investigators. Characteristics and clinical assessment of unexplained sudden cardiac arrest in the real-world setting: focus on idiopathic ventricular fibrillation . Eur Heart J 2018 ; 39 : 1981 – 1987 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS 3 Priori SG , Wilde AA , Horie M , Cho Y , Behr ER , Berul C , Blom N , Brugada J , Chiang CE , Huikuri H , Kannankeril P , Krahn A , Leenhardt A , Moss A , Schwartz PJ , Shimizu W , Tomaselli G , Tracy C. HRS/EHRA/APHRS expert consensus statement on the diagnosis and management of patients with inherited primary arrhythmia syndromes: document endorsed by HRS, EHRA, and APHRS in May 2013 and by ACCF, AHA, PACES, and AEPC in June 2013 . Heart Rhythm 2013 ; 10 : 1932 – 1963 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 4 Priori SG , Blomström-Lundqvist C , Mazzanti A , Blom N , Borggrefe M , Camm J , Elliott PM , Fitzsimons D , Hatala R , Hindricks G , Kirchhof P , Kjeldsen K , Kuck KH , Hernandez-Madrid A , Nikolaou N , Norekvål TM , Spaulding C , Van Veldhuisen DJ. 2015 ESC Guidelines for the management of patients with ventricular arrhythmias and the prevention of sudden cardiac death: The Task Force for the Management of Patients with Ventricular Arrhythmias and the Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). Endorsed by: Association for European Paediatric and Congenital Cardiology (AEPC) . Eur Heart J 2015 ; 36 : 2793 – 2867 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 5 Al-Khatib SM , Stevenson WG , Ackerman MJ , Bryant WJ , Callans DJ , Curtis AB , Deal BJ , Dickfeld T , Field ME , Fonarow GC , Gillis AM , Hlatky MA , Granger CB , Hammill SC , Joglar JA , Kay GN , Matlock DD , Myerburg RJ , Page RL. 2017 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for Management of Patients With Ventricular Arrhythmias and the Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death. A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society . Circulation 2017 ;doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000549. 6 Viskin S , Rosso R , Friedensohn L , Havakuk O , Wilde AA. Everybody has Brugada syndrome until proven otherwise? Heart Rhythm 2015 ; 12 : 1595 – 1598 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 7 Sueda S , Miyoshi T , Sasaki Y , Sakaue T , Habara H , Kohno H. Gender differences in sensitivity of acetylcholine and ergonovine to coronary spasm provocation test . Heart Vessels 2016 ; 31 : 322 – 329 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 8 Somani R , Krahn AD , Healey JS , Chauhan VS , Birnie DH , Champagne J , Sanatani S , Angaran P , Gow RM , Chakrabarti S , Gerull B , Yee R , Skanes AC , Gula LJ , Leong-Sit P , Klein GJ , Gollob MH , Talajic M , Gardner M , Simpson CS. Procainamide infusion in the evaluation of unexplained cardiac arrest: from the Cardiac Arrest Survivors with Preserved Ejection Fraction Registry (CASPER) . Heart Rhythm 2014 ; 11 : 1047 – 1054 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 9 Krahn AD , Healey JS , Chauhan VS , Birnie DH , Champagne J , Sanatani S , Ahmad K , Ballantyne E , Gerull B , Yee R , Skanes AC , Gula LJ , Leong-Sit P , Klein GJ , Gollob MH , Simpson CS , Talajic M , Gardner M. Epinephrine infusion in the evaluation of unexplained cardiac arrest and familial sudden death: from the cardiac arrest survivors with preserved Ejection Fraction Registry . Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol 2012 ; 5 : 933 – 940 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 10 Roberts JD , Gollob MH , Young C , Connors SP , Gray C , Wilton SB , Green MS , Zhu DW , Hodgkinson KA , Poon A , Li Q , Orr N , Tang AS , Klein GJ , Wojciak J , Campagna J , Olgin JE , Badhwar N , Vedantham V , Marcus GM , Kwok PY , Deo RC , Scheinman MM. Bundle branch reentrant ventricular tachycardia: novel genetic mechanisms in a life-threatening arrhythmia . JACC Clin Electrophysiol 2017 ; 3 : 276 – 288 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 11 Herman AR , Cheung C , Gerull B , Simpson CS , Birnie DH , Klein GJ , Champagne J , Healey JS , Gibbs K , Talajic M , Gardner M , Bennett MT , Steinberg C , Janzen M , Gollob MH , Angaran P , Yee R , Leather R , Chakrabarti S , Sanatani S , Chauhan VS , Krahn AD. Outcome of apparently unexplained cardiac arrest: results from investigation and follow-up of the Prospective Cardiac Arrest Survivors With Preserved Ejection Fraction Registry . Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol 2016 ; 9 : e003619 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 12 Kumar S , Peters S , Thompson T , Morgan N , Maccicoca I , Trainer A , Zentner D , Kalman JM , Winship I , Vohra JK. Familial cardiological and targeted genetic evaluation: low yield in sudden unexplained death and high yield in unexplained cardiac arrest syndromes . Heart Rhythm 2013 ; 10 : 1653 – 1660 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 13 Mellor G , Laksman ZWM , Tadros R , Roberts JD , Gerull B , Simpson CS , Klein GJ , Champagne J , Talajic M , Gardner M , Steinberg C , Arbour L , Birnie DH , Angaran P , Leather R , Sanatani S , Chauhan VS , Seifer C , Healey JS , Krahn AD. Genetic testing in the evaluation of unexplained cardiac arrest: from the CASPER (Cardiac Arrest Survivors With Preserved Ejection Fraction Registry) . Circ Cardiovasc Genet 2017 ; 10 : e001686 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 14 Anderson JH , Tester DJ , Will ML , Ackerman MJ. Whole-exome molecular autopsy after exertion-related sudden unexplained death in the young . Circ Cardiovasc Genet 2016 ; 9 : 259 – 265 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 15 Steinberg C , Padfield GJ , Champagne J , Sanatani S , Angaran P , Andrade JG , Roberts JD , Healey JS , Chauhan VS , Birnie DH , Janzen M , Gerull B , Klein GJ , Leather R , Simpson CS , Seifer C , Talajic M , Gardner M , Krahn AD. Cardiac abnormalities in first-degree relatives of unexplained cardiac arrest victims: a report from the Cardiac Arrest Survivors With Preserved Ejection Fraction Registry . Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol 2016 ; 9 : e004274 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed Published on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology. All rights reserved. © The Author(s) 2018. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

Journal

European Heart JournalOxford University Press

Published: Mar 23, 2018

There are no references for this article.

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create lists to
organize your research

Export lists, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off