A group of 51 patients with malignant ventricular arrhythmias refractory to standard oral antiarrhythmic agents were treated with oral tocainide. Antiarrhythmic efficacy was defined as total abolition of occurrences of ventricular tachycardia (VT) or ventricular fibrillation (VF) as assessed by hospital admissions for arrhythmias and the occurrence of sudden cardiac death (SCD). Of the 51 patients, 32 (63%) initially tolerated tocainide and were discharged from the hospital. Of the 19 patients not initially responding to tocainide, 6 (12%) had arrhythmia recurrence and 13 (25%) developed intolerable centeral nervous system or gastrointestinal side effects. Of these 19 short-term nonresponders, 8 (42%) patients suffered SCD over an average follow-up of 24 months (annual SCD rate of 21%). Two patients suffered SCD during the first week of tocainide therapy. Discounting the 2 patients with SCD on tocainide therapy, 6 of 17 (35%) patients initially withdrawn from tocainide suffered SCD (annual SCD rate of 18%). Twenty-four of the 32 short-term responders did not have arrhythmia recurrence over a mean follow-up of 38 months resulting in an overall long-term efficacy of 47% (24/51). Over an averae follow-up of 38 months for these 24 short-term responders, 12 patients expired from nonarrhythmic causes, 3 patients were withdrawn for non-drug-related causes, and 9 patients remained on tocainide therapy. Of the 8 long-term nonresponders, 3 patients had arrhythmia recurrence and died suddenly while 5 patients developed intolerable side effects. The annual SCD rate in short-term responders was 3%. Eighteen of the 51 patients (35%) were withdrawn from the study because of adverse effects. We conclude that tocainide is a valuable addition to the limited number of antiarrhythmic agents effective for the management of patients with malignant ventricular arrhythmias. A reduction in SCD rates may be expected in patients who tolerate and respond to tocainide during acute therapy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine