Management of Unstable Arrhythmias in Cardiogenic Shock
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Atrial and ventricular arrhythmias commonly arise in the setting of cardiogenic shock and often result in hemodynamic deterioration. Causative factors include myocardial ischemia, volume overload, and metabolic disturbances. Correcting these factors plays an important role in managing arrhythmias in this setting. Ventricular arrhythmias are more ominous compared to atrial arrhythmias but both require prompt intervention with electrical shock and anti-arrhythmic drug suppression. Coronary reperfusion is key to improving survival, including reducing the risk of sudden cardiac arrest, in acute myocardial infarction. Case series have also demonstrated the value of intra-aortic balloon pump counter-pulsation in suppressing ventricular arrhythmias in cardiogenic shock. The mechanism of arrhythmia suppression may be due to improved coronary perfusion and afterload reduction. Percutaneous ventricular assist device placement may be effective in this setting; however, data addressing this specific endpoint are lacking. Anti-arrhythmic drug options for ventricular and atrial arrhythmia suppression, in the setting of cardiogenic shock, are relatively limited. Common class I agents are excluded due to the inherent abnormal cardiac structure and function in the setting of cardiogenic shock. Class III drug options include dofetilide and amiodarone. The other Class III agents, sotalol and dronedarone, are excluded due to associated mortality observed in the SWORD and ANDROMEDA trials, respectively. Dofetilide is renally excreted and causes QT interval prolongation. Care should be taken to avoid excessive drug accumulation due to poor kidney perfusion and function. Dofetilide is approved for use for atrial arrhythmias and has not been studied for ventricular arrhythmia suppression. The DIAMOND-CHF trial established its safety in the setting of heart failure. Amiodarone is very effective in suppressing both atrial and ventricular arrhythmias. It is often the drug of choice in heart failure. Its off-label use for atrial arrhythmias is very common. Care should be taken with intravenous amiodarone to avoid hypotension.
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