Wearable cardioverter-defibrillator use in patients perceived to be at high risk early post-myocardial infarction

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The aim of this study was to describe usage of the wearable cardioverter-defibrillator (WCD) during mandated waiting periods following myocardial infarction (MI) for patients perceived to be at high risk for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).


Current device guidelines and insurance coverage require waiting periods of either 40 days or 3 months before implanting a cardioverter-defibrillator post-myocardial infarction (MI), depending on whether or not acute revascularization was undertaken.


We assessed characteristics of and outcomes for patients who had a WCD prescribed in the first 3 months post-MI. The WCD medical order registry was searched for patients who were coded as having had a "recent MI with ejection fraction ≤35%" or given an International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision 410.xx diagnostic code (acute MI), and then matched to device-recorded data.


Between September 2005 and July 2011, 8,453 unique patients (age 62.7 ± 12.7 years, 73% male) matched study criteria. A total of 133 patients (1.6%) received 309 appropriate shocks. Of these patients, 91% were resuscitated from a ventricular arrhythmia. For shocked patients, the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was ≤30% in 106, 30% to 35% in 17, >36% in 8, and not reported in 2 patients. Of the 38% of patients not revascularized, 84% had a LVEF ≤30%; of the 62% of patients revascularized, 77% had a LVEF ≤30%. The median time from the index MI to WCD therapy was 16 days. Of the treated patients, 75% received treatment in the first month, and 96% within the first 3 months of use. Shock success resulting in survival was 84% in nonrevascularized and 95% in revascularized patients.


During the 40-day and 3-month waiting periods in patients post-MI, the WCD successfully treated SCA in 1.4%, and the risk was highest in the first month of WCD use. The WCD may benefit individual patients selected for high risk of SCA early post-MI.