Serum glucose and insulin are associated with QTc and RR intervals in nondiabetic elderly
Aims: To study whether nondiabetic persons with impaired fasting serum glucose and hyperinsulinemia have QTc/QT interval prolongation and RR interval shortening in the electrocardiogram (ECG), and whether these were associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiac death. Methods: This study consisted of two analyses. First, a cross-sectional analysis was used as part of the population-based Rotterdam Study including 1050 men and 1520 women (≥55 years) without diabetes mellitus. Participants in round 3 of the Rotterdam Study for whom an ECG and fasting serum glucose and fasting insulin measurements were available were eligible for the study. Participants using digoxin or QTc-prolonging drugs and participants with left ventricular hypertrophy and left and right bundle branch block were excluded. The endpoints of the study were the lengths of the QTc, QT, and RR intervals. The associations were examined by means of linear regression analysis. Secondly, in all 6020 participants of the Rotterdam Study with an ECG, the associations between the QTc, QT, and RR intervals and sudden cardiac death were examined by means of Cox regression analysis. Results: Overall, there was a significant association between impaired fasting serum glucose and the QTc interval with an increase of 2.6 ms (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.3; 5.0) in those with fasting glucose >6 mmol/l. Hyperinsulinemia was also associated with QTc prolongation (3.0 ms (0.8; 5.3)) in those with fasting insulin ≥100 pmol/l. Impaired fasting glucose (IFG) and hyperinsulinemia were significantly associated with a decrease of the RR interval (-33.7 ms (-48.8;-18.6) and -44.4 ms (-58.7; -30.0) respectively). Participants in the fourth quartile of the QTc and QT intervals had a significantly increased risk of sudden cardiac death compared to participants in the first quartile (hazard ratio (HR) 2.87 (95% CI: 2.02-4.06); HR 3.05 (1.99-4.67) respectively). Furthermore, there was a significant inverse association between the fourth quartile of the RR interval compared to the first quartile and the risk of sudden cardiac death (HR 0.49 (0.34-0.80)). Conclusion: In this population-based study, we demonstrated that IFG and hyperinsulinemia are associated with a significantly increased QTc interval and with significant shortening of the RR interval, the latter probably due to an increased sympathetic activity. In addition, we demonstrated that both a prolonged QTc interval and a shortened RR interval are associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiac death.