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New Tool Assesses Cardiac Death Risk in Heart Patients

Last Updated: December 29, 2009.

Duke University researchers have developed a tool to stratify risk among patients with coronary artery disease, and identify those at highest risk for sudden cardiac death, according to a report in the Dec. 15 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

TUESDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Duke University researchers have developed a tool to stratify risk among patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), and identify those at highest risk for sudden cardiac death (SCD), according to a report in the Dec. 15 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

Brett D. Atwater, M.D., of the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, N.C., and colleagues analyzed data on 37,258 CAD patients with a stenosis of 75 percent or greater who were examined between 1985 and 2005. The researchers correlated demographic and angiographic characteristics and SCD incidence to develop the Duke SCD risk score as a tool for risk stratification among CAD patients.

In median follow-up of 6.2 years, the researchers found that there were 1,568 SCD incidents in the patient cohort. Using a Cox proportional hazards model, the researchers identified 10 patient characteristic variables associated with SCD. A simpler tool was developed using seven of the 10 characteristics, which included reduced left ventricular ejection fraction, number of diseased coronary arteries, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart failure, cerebrovascular disease, and tobacco use. The simplified tool had 97 percent of the predictive ability of all 10 characteristics.

"In conclusion, the Duke SCD risk score represents a simple, validated method for predicting the risk of SCD among patients with coronary artery disease and might be useful for directing treatment strategies designed to mitigate the risk of SCD," the authors write.

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