Declining Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death in Heart Failure: Fact or Myth?

Francisco Leyva, Carsten W. Israel, Jagmeet Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The notion that the risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) in patients with heart failure (HF) is declining seems to be gaining traction. Numerous editorials and commentaries have suggested that SCD, specifically arrhythmic SCD, is no longer a significant risk for patients with HF on guideline-directed medical therapy. In this review, we question whether the risk of SCD has indeed declined in HF trials and in the real world. We also explore whether, despite relative risk reductions, the residual SCD risk after guideline-directed medical therapy still suggests a need for implantable cardioverter defibrillator therapy. Among our arguments is that SCD has not decreased in HF trials, nor in the real world. Moreover, we argue that data from HF trials, which have not adhered to guideline-directed device therapy, do not obviate or justify delays to implantable cardioverter defibrillator therapy. In this context, we underline the challenges of translating the findings of HF randomized, controlled trials of guideline-directed medical therapy to the real world. We also make the case for HF trials that adhere to current guideline-directed device therapy so that we can better understand the role of implantable cardioverter defibrillators in chronic HF.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-767
Number of pages9
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2023


  • angiotensin receptor/neprilysin inhibitors
  • heart failure
  • implantable cardioverter defibrillators
  • sudden cardiac death


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