Mechanism of sudden cardiac death in pigs with viable chronically dysfunctional myocardium and ischemic cardiomyopathy

James A. Fallavollita, Brian J. Riegel, Gen Suzuki, Uma Valeti, John M. Canty

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20 Scopus citations


Pigs with viable chronically dysfunctional myocardium and ischemic cardiomyopathy are at high risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD). We sought to identify the arrhythmic mechanism of SCD, the relation to changes in left ventricular (LV) function, and inducibility of malignant arrhythmias before SCD. Juvenile pigs (n = 72) were instrumented with chronic stenoses on proximal left anterior descending and circumflex arteries. Survival was only 29% 3 mo after instrumentation, and all deaths were sudden and without prodromal symptoms of heart failure. Triphenyltetrazolium chloride staining demonstrated necrosis in only nine animals averaging 2.3 ± 0.9% of the LV, with no difference between SCD animals and survivors. Implantable loop recorders (n = 13) documented both ventricular fibrillation (n = 6) and bradyasystole (n = 2) as the arrhythmic mechanism of death. Although regional and global function were depressed [anteroseptal wall thickening 1.8 ± 0.2 vs. 4.2 ± 0.2 mm in Sham animals (P < 0.001); fractional shortening 21 ± 2 vs. 31 ± 1% in Sham animals (P < 0.01)], there were no differences between SCD animals and survivors. LV mass increased in animals with ischemic cardiomyopathy and was greater in animals with SCD (4.0 ± 0.2 vs. 3.1 ± 0.1 g/kg in survivors; P < 0.001). Serial programmed ventricular stimulation failed to induce any sustained arrhythmias. We conclude that pigs with viable dysfunctional myocardium and globally reduced LV function have a high rate of SCD with a spectrum of arrhythmias similar to patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy. The risk is independent of necrosis but appears to increase with LV hypertrophy. Like patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy, programmed stimulation is insensitive to predict SCD when viable dysfunctional myocardium is the pathological substrate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H2688-H2696
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6 58-6
StatePublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Arrhythmias
  • Hibernating myocardium


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