QRS Duration Independently Tied to Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death

Only a prior heart attack and type 2 diabetes point to increased risk of SCD more than QRS duration

TUESDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- Prolonged QRS duration is associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD), according to a study published online May 21 in Circulation.

Sudhir Kurl, M.D., from the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, and colleagues conducted a prospective study in a cohort of 2,049 men, aged 42 to 60 years at baseline, to investigate the association of QRS duration with SCD. Participants had complete electrocardiography data available and were followed for 19.1 years.

During follow-up, the researchers identified 156 SCDs. For each 10-ms increase in the QRS duration as a continuous variable, there was a significantly increased risk for SCD (relative risk, 1.27). Compared with individuals in the lowest quintile of QRS duration (<96 ms), those in the highest quintile of QRS duration (>110 ms) had a 2.5-fold increased risk of SCD, after adjustment for demographic and clinical risk factors. The risk of SCD also correlated with smoking, previous myocardial infarction, type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiorespiratory fitness, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, and C-reactive protein.

"QRS duration is an independent predictor of the risk of SCD and may have utility in estimating SCD risk in the general population," the authors write. "Further research is needed to study the mechanism of QRS duration as a SCD predictor."

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