Primary Prevention Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator Therapy in Heart Failure with Recovered Ejection Fraction

Jayson R. Baman, Kaustubha D. Patil, Ankit N. Medhekar, Jane E. Wilcox*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Given recent advances in both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic strategies for improving outcomes related to chronic systolic heart failure, heart failure with recovered ejection fraction (HFrecEF) is now recognized as a distinct clinical entity with increasing prevalence. In many patients who once had an indication for active implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) therapy, questions remain regarding the usefulness of this primary prevention strategy to protect against syncope and cardiac arrest after they have achieved myocardial recovery. Early, small studies provide convincing evidence for continued guideline-directed medical therapy (GDMT) in segments of the HFrecEF population to promote persistent left ventricular myocardial recovery. Retrospective data suggest that the risk of sudden cardiac death is lower, but still present, in HFrecEF as compared with HF with reduced ejection fraction, with reports of up to 5 appropriate ICD therapies delivered per 100 patient-years. The usefulness of continued ICD therapy is weighed against the unfavorable effects of this strategy, which include a cumulative risk of infection, inappropriate discharge, and patient-level anxiety. Historically, many surrogate measures for risk stratification have been explored, but few have demonstrated efficacy and widespread availability. We found that the available data to inform decisions surrounding the continued use of active ICD therapies in this population are incomplete, and more advanced tools such as genetic testing, evaluation of high-risk structural cardiomyopathies (such as noncompaction), and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging have emerged as vital in risk stratification. Clinicians and patients should engage in shared decision-making to evaluate the appropriateness of active ICD therapy for any given individual. In this article, we explore the definition of HFrecEF, data underlying continuation of guideline-directed medical therapy in patients who have achieved left ventricular ejection fraction recovery, the benefits and risks of active ICD therapy, and surrogate measures that may have a role in risk stratification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-596
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cardiac Failure
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Heart failure
  • cardiomyopathy
  • implantable cardioverter-defibrillator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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