Consistency of heart rate-QTc prolongation consistency and sudden cardiac death: The Rotterdam Study

Marieke Niemeijer, Marten van den Berg, Jaap Deckers, OH Franco Duran, Bert Hofman, Jan Kors, Bruno Stricker, Peter Rijnbeek, Mark Eijgelsheim

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BACKGROUND A prolonged heart rate-corrected QT (QTc) interval is a well-known risk indicator for sudden cardiac death (SCD) and a contraindication for drugs with potentially arrhythmogenic adverse effects. OBJECTIVE We aimed to study the consistency of QTc interval prolongation and whether a consistent QTc interval prolongation correlates differently with SCD than does an inconsistently prolonged QTc interval. METHODS We used a population-based cohort study of persons 55 years and older. We excluded participants using QTc-prolonging drugs or with bundle branch block. The QT interval was corrected for heart rate using Bazett and Fridericia formulas. Using a Cox regression model, we assessed the association between QTc interval prolongation consistency and the occurrence of SCD. RESULTS A total of 3484 participants had electrocardiograms (ECGs) recorded on 2 consecutive visits. In 96%-98% of participants with a normal QTc interval on the first ECG, the QTc interval remained normal, but only in 27%-35% of those with a prolonged QTc interval, the QTc interval was prolonged on the second ECG after a median of 1.8 years. A consistently prolonged QTc interval was associated with an increased risk of SCD as compared with a consistently normal QTc interval (Bazett: hazard ratio 2.23; 95% confidence interval 1.17-4.24, Fridericia: hazard ratio 6.67; 95% confidence interval 2.96-15.06). A prolonged QTc interval preceded or followed by a normal QTc interval was not significantly associated with an increased risk of SCD. CONCLUSION Persons with an inconsistently prolonged QTc interval did not have a higher risk of SCD than those with a consistently normal QTc interval. Persons with a consistently prolonged QTc interval did have a higher risk of SCD. Our results suggest that repeated measurements of the QTc interval could enhance risk stratification.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)2078-2085
Number of pages8
JournalHeart Rhythm
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Research programs

  • EMC COEUR-09
  • EMC NIHES-01-64-03
  • EMC NIHES-03-77-01

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