Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the prognostic value of T-wave alternans (TWA) in New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class II/III patients with nonischemic cardiomyopathy and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) ≤40%. Background: There is a strong need to identify reliable risk stratifiers among heart failure candidates for implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) prophylaxis. T-wave alternans may identify low-risk subjects among post-myocardial infarction patients with depressed LVEF, but its predictive role in nonischemic cardiomyopathy is unclear. Methods: Four hundred forty-six patients were enrolled and followed up for 18 to 24 months. The primary end point was the combination of cardiac death + life-threatening arrhythmias; secondary end points were total mortality and the combination of arrhythmic death + life-threatening arrhythmias. Results: Patients with abnormal TWA (65%) compared with normal TWA (35%) tests were older (60 ± 13 years vs. 57 ± 12 years), were more frequently in NYHA functional class III (22% vs. 19%), and had a modestly lower LVEF (29 ± 7% vs. 31 ± 7%). Primary end point rates in patients with abnormal and normal TWA tests were 6.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] 4.5% to 9.4%) and 1.6% (95% CI 0.6% to 4.4%), respectively. Unadjusted and adjusted hazard ratios were 4.0 (95% CI 1.4% to 11.4%; p = 0.002) and 3.2 (95% CI 1.1% to 9.2%; p = 0.013), respectively. Hazard ratios for total mortality and for arrhythmic death + life-threatening arrhythmias were 4.6 (p = 0.002) and 5.5 (p = 0.004), respectively; 18-month negative predictive values for the 3 end points ranged between 97.3% and 98.6%. Conclusions: Among NYHA functional class II/III nonischemic cardiomyopathy patients, an abnormal TWA test is associated with a 4-fold higher risk of cardiac death and life-threatening arrhythmias. Patients with normal TWA tests have a very good prognosis and are likely to benefit little from ICD therapy.
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