05 February 2021
Background: Arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death (SCD) are known complications of acute viral myocarditis, regardless of ejection fraction (EF) at presentation. Whether such complications confer long-term risk is unknown, especially in those who present with preserved left ventricular (LV) function. No guidelines exist to the long-term reduction of arrhythmic death in such patients. Method: In this retrospective study, we analyzed the long-term results of implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) treatment in patients after an acute phase of myocarditis with life-threatening arrhythmia. Results: We identified 51 patients who had ICDs implanted following life-threatening arrhythmia presentation of confirmed acute viral myocarditis, despite preserved LVEF. Overall, 72.5% of patients had a clinical history of chest pain and viral infection with fever. Viral myocarditis was confirmed by cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (all had late enhancement) plus endomyocardial biopsies (most frequent were Epstein-Barr virus 29.4%, adenovirus 17.6%, and Coxsackie 17.6%), and 88.2% were discharged on anti-arrhythmic drugs. Overall, 12 patients (23.5%) required ICD intervention within the first 3 months, a further 7 patients (37.3% overall) between 3 and 12 months, and a further 12 patients (60.8% overall) until 58 months. During the follow-up, 3 of 51 patients (5.9%) died—deaths were due to cardiac events ( n = 1), fatal infection ( n = 1), and car accidents ( n = 1). Of the 31 patients who had ventricular tachycardias after the acute phase of myocarditis, 11 needed radiofrequency ablation due to a high number of events or electrical storm. No baseline variables were identified that would serve as a basis for risk stratification. Conclusion: Malignant arrhythmic events due to viral myocarditis are potential predictors of future SCD in patients not only with a reduced but also with a preserved EF.