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Towards cardiac MRI based risk stratification in idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy


Sudden cardiac death (SCD) secondary to arrhythmia remains a risk in those with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) is an effective strategy to prevent SCD. Current guidelines recommend selection for ICD based on ejection fraction (EF) less than 35%, however, most SCD occurs in those with EF>35%. Although meta-analysis has demonstrated a survival benefit for primary prevention ICD in DCM, no randomised trial has shown a significant reduction in overall mortality including the most recent ‘Danish Study to Assess the Efficacy of ICDs in Patients With Non-Ischemic Systolic Heat Failure on Mortality’ study. Clearly, a more sophisticated selection strategy is required. Cardiac MRI (CMR) is an ideal non-invasive imaging technique which allows calculation of EF as well as tissue characterisation with gadolinium contrast, parametric mapping and feature tracking. Late gadolinium enhancement detects mid-wall fibrosis in approximately 30% of those with DCM, three meta-analyses have demonstrated an association between fibrosis in DCM and SCD, and those without fibrosis are at low risk of SCD. T1 mapping and extracellular volume (ECV) calculation are methods of demonstrating diffuse fibrosis in the myocardium. Raised ECV and native T1 have been associated with worse outcomes but the relationship to SCD has not been well studied. Undoubtedly, more research is required but CMR has several tools which offer incremental value above EF to improve risk stratification and consequent outcomes and resource utilisation in those with DCM.

  • cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging
  • implanted cardiac defibrillators
  • cardiac arrest
  • heart failure with reduced ejection fraction
  • idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy

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