Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia medical therapy

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


The goal of management of ARVD is to decrease the incidence of sudden cardiac death. This raises a clinical dilemma: How to prophylactically treat the asymptomatic patient who was diagnosed during family screening.

A certain subgroup of individuals with ARVD are considered at high risk for sudden cardiac death. Characteristics associated with high risk of sudden cardiac death include:

Management options include pharmacological, surgical, catheter ablation, and placement of an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.

Prior to the decision of the treatment option, programmed electrical stimulation in the electrophysiology laboratory may be performed for additional prognostic information. Goals of programmed stimulation include:

  • Assessment of the disease's arrhythmogenic potential
  • Evaluate the hemodynamic consequences of sustained VT
  • Determine whether the VT can be interrupted via antitachycardia pacing.

Regardless of the management option chosen, the individual is typically suggested to undergo lifestyle modification, including avoidance of strenuous exercise, cardiac stimulants (ie: caffeine, nicotine, pseudoephedrine) and alcohol. If the individual wishes to begin an exercise regimen, an exercise stress test may have added benefit.

Medical therapy

Pharmacologic management of ARVD involves arrhythmia suppression and prevention of thrombus formation.

Sotalol, a beta blocker and a class III antiarrhythmic agent, is the most effective antiarrhythmic agent in ARVD. Other antiarrhythmic agents used include amiodarone and conventional beta blockers (ie: metoprolol). If antiarrhythmic agents are used, their efficacy should be guided by series ambulatory holter monitoring, to show a reduction in arrhythmic events.

While angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE Inhibitors) are well known for slowing progression in other cardiomyopathies, they have not been proven to be helpful in ARVD.

Individuals will decreased RV ejection fraction with dyskinetic portions of the right ventricle may benefit from long term anticoagulation with warfarin to prevent thrombus formation and subsequent pulmonary embolism.


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