Non-invasive method proves effective in sudden cardiac death prediction

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A computer-base system for establishing risk levels for sudden cardiac death in patients has been shown to be equally as effective as more commonly used and expensive methods, according to research presented at this week’s American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Chicago this week.

The less expensive non-invasive method called T-wave alternans (TWA) measures variability in heart beats on an electrocardiogram to determine a patient’s risk, and to determine if a defibrillator device is needed. The TWA test was determined to be just as useful a predictive tool as its more expensive counterpart, the invasive electrophysiological study (EPS).

The four-year trial was at the MetroHealth Medical Center campus of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. The study authors indicate that both test methods were able to identify patients that could benefit from defibrillator therapy, even if they were not in immediate risk for sudden cardiac death. However, the author’s noted, the TWA test is only predictive for 15 months and testing yearly for such patients is recommended.