QTc prolongation measured by standard 12-lead electrocardiography is an independent risk factor for sudden death due to cardiac arrest.
BACKGROUND QTc prolongation has been implicated as a risk factor for sudden death; however, a controversy exists over its significance.
METHODS AND RESULTS In the Rotterdam QT Project, 6,693 consecutive patients who underwent 24-hour ambulatory electrocardiography were followed up for 2 years; of these, 245 patients died suddenly. A standard 12-lead electrocardiogram and clinical data at the time of 24-hour ambulatory electrocardiography were collected for all patients who died suddenly and for a random sample of 467 patients from the study cohort. In all patients without an intraventricular conduction defect (176 patients who died suddenly and 390 patients from the sample), QT interval duration was measured in leads I, II, and III and corrected for heart rate with Bazett's formula (QTc). In patients without evidence of cardiac dysfunction (history of symptoms of pump failure or an ejection fraction less than 40%), QTc of more than 440 msec was associated with a 2.3 times higher risk for sudden death compared with a QTc of 440 msec or less (95% confidence interval: 1.4, 3.9). In contrast, in patients with evidence of cardiac dysfunction, the relative risk of QTc prolongation was 1.0 (0.5, 1.9). Adjustment for age, gender, history of myocardial infarction, heart rate, and the use of drugs did not alter these relative risks.
CONCLUSIONS These data indicate that in patients without intraventricular conduction defects and cardiac dysfunction, QTc prolongation measured from the standard electrocardiogram is a risk factor for sudden death independent of age, history of myocardial infarction, heart rate, and drug use. In patients with cardiac dysfunction, QTc duration is not related to the risk for sudden death.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association