Prevalence of circadian variations and spontaneous variability of cardiac disorders and ECG changes suggestive of myocardial ischemia in systemic arterial hypertension.
BACKGROUND Systemic hypertension is a well-known risk factor for coronary artery disease and sudden cardiac death. Recent interest focused on the presence of malignant ventricular arrhythmias (VA) and myocardial ischemia in hypertensive patients and provided a potential link for fatal tachyarrhythmic events.
METHODS AND RESULTS We studied 150 untreated normokalemic hypertensive patients (56 +/- 9 years; 56 women and 94 men) without manifest coronary artery disease to determine prevalence, severity, and interaction of VA and significant ST segment changes induced by daily activities. One third of the patients were randomized to 4 weeks of placebo and restudied for spontaneous variability of the two parameters. All patients were included in a 3-year follow-up study. VA were observed in 129 of 150 hypertensive patients (86%) and peaked in the early morning and late afternoon. Twenty-two patients (15%) had ventricular pairs, and 20 patients (13%) had nonsustained ventricular tachycardia. Transient ST segment depression observed in 47 patients (33%; mean incidence, 2.7 +/- 0.8 episodes/24 hr) showed a characteristic circadian variation similar to VA and were asymptomatic in 93% of the episodes. At the time of transient ST segment depression, VA increased 4.6 times (p less than 0.01). After 4 weeks of placebo, marked variations in the incidence of VA (VA suppression rate -100%, or increase greater than 400%) were observed in 29% of the patients, and in 60% of all patients repetitive VA were present in only one of the two Holter recordings. Day-and-night variations of VA and transient ST segment changes were highly reproducible during the placebo period. After 3 years of follow-up, eight of 146 patients (5%) had suffered myocardial infarction, and five patients had died from cardiac events (three patients died from sudden cardiac death). Logistic regression analysis revealed left ventricular hypertrophy (relative risk, 6.1; p less than 0.01) and transient ST segment abnormalities during daily activities (relative risk, 4.4; p less than 0.05) to be of independent prognostic significance to predict cardiac events during follow-up instead of repetitive VA (relative risk, 1.3; NS).
CONCLUSIONS VA associated with a high spontaneous variability and predominantly asymptomatic transient ST segment changes are common in hypertensives; the interaction of both risk factors may provide an important link for fatal VA. Antiarrhythmic therapy is not to be recommended in the majority of patients. Presence of left ventricular hypertrophy and transient ST segment changes were the most powerful predictors of cardiac events during the follow-up.
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association