Journal Article

Analysis of terminal arrhythmias stored in the memory of pacemakers from patients dying suddenly

H. Nägele, S. Hashagen, M. Azizi, S. Behrens and M.A. Castel

in EP Europace

Published on behalf of European Heart Rhythm Association of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC)

Volume 9, issue 6, pages 380-384
Published in print June 2007 | ISSN: 1099-5129
Published online April 2007 | e-ISSN: 1532-2092 | DOI:
Analysis of terminal arrhythmias stored in the memory of pacemakers from patients dying suddenly

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Aims Stored electrograms or marker channels are available in most of modern cardiac pacemaker models. We sought to analyse these information to uncover terminal events of pacemaker patients dying suddenly.

Method and results We made post-mortem pacemaker (PM) interrogations in 19 patients dying suddenly out of hospital between the years 1997 and 2005 (mean age 59 ± 13 years, 90% males). The systems had activated arrhythmia monitoring algorithms. Indications of pacing were sick sinus syndrome in seven, AV-block in five, and heart failure due to asynchrony in seven cases. The interrogated pacemakers were CHORUS 7034 (n = 12), CONTAK TR (n = 2), and INSYNC III (n = 5). For interpretation stored marker channels and electrograms were analysed. The mean observation time after PM implantation prior death was 2.11 ± 1.44 years, the mean left ventricular ejection fraction from the last available echo examination in the year prior death was 27.5 ± 8%, mean age was 63 ± 12 years. In 17/19 cases (89%), a tachycardia (most likely ventricular tachycardia) was found correlating to the time of death. The mean cycle length of the terminal arrhythmia was 307 ± 144 (250–344) ms, corresponding to a heart rate of 195 ± 95 (174–240) bpm. We found no evidence of specific pacemaker-related problems such as electronic failure, battery depletion, or undersensing.

Conclusions Post-mortem analysis of arrhythmia monitoring of pacemaker patients revealed tachycardias (most likely ventricular tachycardia) to be related to sudden death. These findings give some insight in mechanisms of terminal events in this group.

Keywords: Sudden death; Pacemaker memory; Arrhythmia

Journal Article.  2967 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cardiovascular Medicine

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