Are drugs and catheter ablation effective for treating ventricular arrhythmias in populations that cannot afford implantable cardioverter defibrillators?
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Despite recent advances, ventricular arrhythmias continue to pose a therapeutic challenge, especially to the clinician in the developing world. Although the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) has improved survival in both primary and secondary prevention trials, it still remains a costly modality for the developing world. Even though certain subgroups stand to benefit unequivocally in survival from the ICD, there are others in whom this therapy may not offer a survival benefit over empiric antiarrhythmic drug therapy with amiodarone. The utility of optimized drug therapy (including either amiodarone or sotalol, b-blockers, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors) needs to be compared with the ICD in a randomized manner in these lower-risk patients with ventricular arrhythmias. The role of conventional catheter ablation techniques is mostly adjunctive to drugs and ICDs, although the newer mapping and ablation techniques may offer greater promise in the future.
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