OBJECTIVES: Major ECG abnormalities have been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) burden in asymptomatic populations. However, sex differences in occurrence of major ECG abnormalities have been poorly studied, particularly across ethnic groups. The objectives were to investigate (1) sex differences in the prevalence of major and, as a secondary outcome, minor ECG abnormalities, (2) whether patterns of sex differences varied across ethnic groups, by age and (3) to what extent conventional cardiovascular risk factors contributed to observed sex differences. DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis of population-based study. SETTING: Multi-ethnic, population-based Healthy Life in an Urban Setting cohort, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. PARTICIPANTS: 8089 men and 11 369 women of Dutch, South-Asian Surinamese, African Surinamese, Ghanaian, Turkish and Moroccan origin aged 18-70 years without CVD. OUTCOME MEASURES: Age-adjusted and multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to study sex differences in prevalence of major and, as secondary outcome, minor ECG abnormalities in the overall population, across ethnic groups and by age-groups (18-35, 36-50 and >50 years). RESULTS: Major and minor ECG abnormalities were less prevalent in women than men (4.6% vs 6.6% and 23.8% vs 39.8%, respectively). After adjustment for conventional risk factors, sex differences in major abnormalities were smaller in ethnic minority groups (OR ranged from 0.61 in Moroccans to 1.32 in South-Asian Surinamese) than in the Dutch (OR 0.49; 95% CI 0.36 to 0.65). Only in South-Asian Surinamese, women did not have a lower odds than men (OR 1.32; 95% CI 0.96 to 1.84). The pattern of smaller sex differences in ethnic minority groups was more pronounced in older than in younger age-groups. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of major ECG abnormalities was lower in women than men. However, sex differences were less apparent in ethnic minority groups. Conventional risk factors did not contribute substantially to observed sex differences.

Additional Metadata
Keywords cardiac epidemiology, epidemiology, pacing & electrophysiology, public health
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-039091, hdl.handle.net/1765/130195
Journal BMJ Open
Citation
Bolijn, R. (Renee), Ter Haar, C.C. (C Cato), van Harskamp, F, Tan, H.L, Kors, J.A, Postema, P.G, … van Valkengoed, I. (2020). Do sex differences in the prevalence of ECG abnormalities vary across ethnic groups living in the Netherlands? A cross-sectional analysis of the population-based HELIUS study. BMJ Open, 10(9). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2020-039091