Seasonal Variations of Ventricular Arrhythmia Clusters in Defibrillator Recipients

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Abstract

Background

Clustering ventricular arrhythmias are the consequence of acute ventricular electrical instability and represent a challenge in the management of the growing number of patients with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). Triggering factors can rarely be identified.

Objectives

Several studies have revealed seasonal variations in the frequency of cardiovascular events and life-threatening arrhythmias, and we sought to establish whether seasonal factors may exacerbate ventricular electrical instability leading to arrhythmia clusters and electrical storm.

Methods

Two hundred and fourteen consecutive defibrillator recipients were followed-up during 3.3 ± 2.2 years. Arrhythmia cluster was defined as the occurrence of three or more arrhythmic events triggering appropriate defibrillator therapies within 2 weeks. Time intervals between two clusters were calculated for each month and each season, and were compared using Kruskal-Wallis test and Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test with Bonferroni adjustment.

Results

During a follow-up of 698 patient years, 98 arrhythmia clusters were observed in 51 patients; clustering ventricular arrhythmias were associated with temporal variables; they occurred more frequently in the winter and spring months than during the summer and fall. Accordingly, the time intervals between two clusters were significantly shorter during winter and spring (median and 95% CI): winter 16 (5–19), spring 11.5 (7–25), summer 34.5 (15–55), fall 50.5 (19–65), P = 0.0041.

Conclusion

There are important seasonal variations in the incidence of arrhythmia clusters in ICD recipients. Whether these variations are related to environmental factors, change in physical activity, or psychological factors requires further study.

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