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Keywords:

  • anger;
  • anxiety psychological assessment;
  • ventricular tachycardia;
  • automatic internal cardioverter defibrillator

In order to assess the psychological profile of patients with malignant ventricular tachyarrhythmias, eight patients who underwent implantation of the automatic internal cardioverter defibrillator for refractory arrhythmias were evaluated. Six men and two women with a mean age of 53 years were examined with the Symptom Checklist-90, the State Trait Personality Inventory and a specifically designed questionnaire about the automatic internal cardioverter defibrillator. The group studied manifested high degrees of both anger and anxiety compared to normal controls or to other medically ill populations. The trait scores remained essentially unchanged before and after the AICD implantation. The state of anxiety was markedly reduced by 26 percentage points after implantation (P < 0.01), while the state of anger remained unchanged. In evaluating the number of AICD discharges, it was observed that the number of discharges in the first 6 months was higher than that observed in the subsequent follow-up period (mean 30 months). The reduction in AICD discharges demonstrated a trend (P = 0.094). Patient acceptance of the automatic internal cardioverter defibrillator was high. They became accustomed to the pulse generator after a mean of 3.6 months. The defibrillator permitted resumption of normal activities. If the device became battery depleted, all patients would insist on replacement. The evaluation of this group of patients with malignant ventricular arrhythmias indicates a high degree of anxiety and anger, which potentially may influence outcome. The reduction in defibrillator discharges after the first 6 months in addition to a reduced state of anxiety is a relationship that merits further investigation. (PACE, Vol. 12 February 1989)