Utilization of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators for the prevention of sudden cardiac death in emerging countries: Improve SCA clinical trial

Improve SCA Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) are underutilized in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The Improve SCA Study is the largest prospective study to evaluate the benefit of ICD therapy in underrepresented geographies. This analysis reports the primary objective of the study. Objectives: The objectives of this study was to determine whether patients with primary prevention (PP) indications with specific risk factors (1.5PP: syncope, nonsustained ventricular tachycardia, premature ventricular contractions >10/h, and low ventricular ejection fraction <25%) are at a similar risk of life-threatening arrhythmias as patients with secondary prevention (SP) indications and to evaluate all-cause mortality rates in 1.5PP patients with and without devices. Methods: A total of 3889 patients were included in the analysis to evaluate ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation therapy and mortality rates. Patients were stratified as SP (n = 1193) and patients with PP indications. The PP cohort was divided into 1.5PP patients (n = 1913) and those without any 1.5PP criteria (n = 783). The decision to undergo ICD implantation was left to the patient and/or physician. The Cox proportional hazards model was used to compute hazard ratios. Results: Patients had predominantly nonischemic cardiomyopathy. The rate of ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation in 1.5PP patients was not equivalent (within 30%) to that in patients with SP indications (hazard ratio 0.47; 95% confidence interval 0.38–0.57) but was higher than that in PP patients without any 1.5PP criteria (hazard ratio 0.67; 95% confidence interval 0.46–0.97) (P =.03). There was a 49% relative risk reduction in all-cause mortality in ICD implanted 1.5PP patients. In addition, the number needed to treat to save 1 life over 3 years was 10.0 in the 1.5PP cohort vs 40.0 in PP patients without any 1.5PP criteria. Conclusion: These data corroborate the mortality benefit of ICD therapy and support extension to a selected PP population from underrepresented geographies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-475
Number of pages8
JournalHeart Rhythm
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators
  • Mortality
  • Primary prevention
  • Risk stratification
  • Secondary prevention
  • Sudden cardiac arrest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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