Sudden cardiac death after acute heart failure hospital admission: insights from ASCEND-HF

Sean D. Pokorney, Sana M. Al-Khatib, Jie Lena Sun, Phillip Schulte, Christopher M. O'Connor, John R. Teerlink, Paul W. Armstrong, Justin A. Ezekowitz, Randall C. Starling, Adriaan A. Voors, Eric J. Velazquez, Adrian F. Hernandez, Robert J. Mentz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Aims: The incidence of and factors associated with sudden cardiac death (SCD) early after an acute heart failure (HF) hospital admission have not been well defined. Methods and results: We assessed SCD and ventricular arrhythmias in the Acute Study of Clinical Effectiveness of Nesiritide in Decompensated Heart Failure (ASCEND-HF) trial, which included patients with acute HF with reduced or preserved ejection fraction. SCD, resuscitated SCD (RSCD), and sustained ventricular tachycardia/ventricular fibrillation (VT/VF) were adjudicated from randomization through 30 days and were combined into a composite endpoint. Baseline characteristics associated with this composite were determined by logistic regression. RSCD and VT/VF were included as time-dependent variables in a Cox model evaluating the association of these variables with 180-day all-cause mortality. Among 7011 patients, the 30-day all-cause mortality rate was 3.8%; SCD accounted for 17% of these deaths. The 30-day composite event rate was 1.8% (n = 121). Ten patients had more than one event with 30-day Kaplan–Meier event rates of 0.6% for SCD [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.5%–0.9%, n = 43], 0.4% for RSCD (95% CI 0.2%–0.5%, n = 24), and 0.9% for VT/VF (95% CI 0.7%–1.2%, n = 64). In the multivariable model, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, history of VT, male sex, and longer QRS duration were associated with SCD, RSCD, or VT/VF. A RSCD or VT/VF event was associated with higher 180-day mortality (adjusted hazard ratio 6.6, 95% CI 4.8–9.1, P < 0.0001). Conclusions: Approximately 2% of patients admitted for acute HF experienced SCD, RSCD, or VT/VF within 30 days of admission, and SCD accounted for 17% of all deaths within 30 days.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-532
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Heart Failure
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Heart failure
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Ventricular fibrillation
  • Ventricular tachycardia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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