Upper limit of vulnerability predicts chronic defibrillation threshold for transvenous implantable defibrillators

David J. Martin, Peng Sheng Chen, Chun Hwang, Eli S. Gang, William J. Mandel, C. Thomas Peter, Charles D. Swerdlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


ULV Predicts Chronic DFT. Introduction: The upper limit of vulnerability (ULV) is the shock strength at or above which ventricular fibrillation cannot be induced when delivered in the vulnerable period. It correlates acutely with the acute defibrillation threshold (DFT) and can be determined with a single episode of fibrillation. The goal of this prospective study was to determine the relationship between the ULV and the chronic DFT. Methods and Results: We studied 40 patients at, and 3 months after, implantation of transvenous cardioverter defibrillators. The ULV was defined as the weakest biphasic shock that failed to induce fibrillation when delivered 0, 20, and 40 msec before the peak of the T wave. Patients were classified as clinically stable or unstable based on prospectively defined criteria. There were no significant differences between the group means for the acute and chronic determinations of ULV (13.5 ± 5.3 J vs 12.4 ± 6.8 J, P = 0.25) and DFT (10.1 ± 5.0 J vs 9.9 ± 5.7 J, P = 0.74). Five patients (15%) were classified as unstable. The strength of the correlation between acute ULV and acute DFT (r = 0.74, P < 0.001) was similar to that between the chronic ULV and chronic DFT (r = 0.82, P < 0.001). There was a correlation between the change in ULV from acute to chronic and the corresponding change in DFT (r = 0.67, P < 0.001). The chronic DFT was less than the acute ULV + 3 J in all 35 stable patients, but it was greater in 2 of 5 unstable patients (P = 0.04). Conclusions: The strength of the correlation between the chronic ULV and the chronic DFT is comparable to that between the acute ULV and the acute DFT. Temporal changes in the ULV predict temporal changes in the DFT. In clinically stable patients, a defibrillation safety margin of 3 J above the acute ULV proved an adequate chronic safety margin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-248
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • defibrillation
  • implantable cardioverter defibrillator
  • ventricular fibrillation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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