Ischemic heart disease and dilated cardiomyopathy are among the most common cardiovascular disease processes associated with heart failure that can lead to lethal arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death (SCD). With the increasing incidence of heart failure in the United States, many patients are now at risk for SCD. Nurses should understand the pathophysiology, current treatment guidelines, and the rationale for these therapies to effectively manage systolic dysfunction and to mitigate the risk of SCD. Nurses are more involved than ever with this patient population and play a key role as members of the heart failure disease management team. As a result, nurses are uniquely positioned to improve survival and reduce SCD in individuals diagnosed with left ventricular dysfunction. The purpose of this article is to increase the awareness of the risk of sudden death in patients with left ventricular dysfunction. Current evidence-based practice guidelines with rationale are reviewed.

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