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Prevention of Sudden Death in Heart Attack Survivors

Associate Professor Sarah Zaman, Institution: Monash University

2017 Postdoctoral Fellowship

Years funded: 2018-2020


Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Australia with sudden cardiac death its most common form.

The majority of sudden death occurs in heart attack survivors with impaired heart function.
A defibrillator is a small implantable device that treats the fast abnormal heart rhythms that cause sudden death.

The PROTECT-ICD Trial is an Australian-led, international, multi-centre study targeting prevention of sudden death in patients who have suffered a heart attack.

The trial assesses if an electrical test of the heart, called an electrophysiology study, can identify patients at risk of sudden death. In particular, the trial is focused on identifying patients early (within a month) after a heart attack, as the risk of sudden death is much higher during this time period.

 Over 1,000 patients with impaired heart function following a heart attack will be recruited and randomly assigned to either:
  1. early electrophysiology study with a defibrillator implanted if fast abnormal heart rhythms are seen or
  2. standard care. Standard care involves waiting 1-3 months for the heart to recover, with a defibrillator implanted only if there is persistent severe heart function impairment.

The PROTECT-ICD Trial targets the important issue of prevention of sudden death after a heart attack through the use of an electrophysiology study. It has the potential to change national and international guidelines for selection of patients for a defibrillator for sudden death prevention.

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