Prolonged heart-rate adjusted QT intervals on the electrocardiogram (ECG) are associated with an increased risk far coronary heart disease and sudden death. However, the diagnosis of the prolonged QT interval is hampered by lack of standards. We studied variations in the prevalence of prolonged QT, based on different common definitions, in a large nonhospitalized population, and compared our results with other studies applying the same definitions. The study population consisted of 2,200 men and 3,366 women participants of the Rotterdam Study, ≤55 years old. The QT interval was computed by our Modular ECG Analysis System (MEANS). Three different formulas to adjust QT for heart rata were used: Bazett's formula (QT(c), a linear regression equation (QT(Ir)), and the QT index (QTI). Prolonged QT occurred frequently in both men and women, and its prevalence increased with age. Women had longer heart-rate adjusted QT intervals than men (mean QT(c) 433 ms vs 422 ms), and mean values for QT(Ir) were lower than for QT(c) (mean QT(Ir) 422 ms in women and 412 ms in men). Prevalence was highest for prolonged QT(Ir) (31% in men and 26% in women) and lowest for prolonged QTI (6% in men and 9% in women). Comparison with other studies applying the same correction formulas showed large discrepancies in prevalence estimates of prolonged QT(c) and QT(Ir), and to a lesser degree of prolonged QTI, possibly due to differences in measurement techniques. Future research is needed to relate QT interval to prognosis, to obtain measurement technique specific reference values of heart-rate adjusted QT measurements, and to obtain age-and sex- specific threshold values for prolonged QT. Such data are needed to use the QT interval with confidence.

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Journal The American Journal of Cardiology
de Bruyne, M.C, Hoes, A.W, Kors, J.A, Dekker, J.M, Hofman, A, van Bemmel, J.H, & Grobbee, D.E. (1997). Prolonged QT interval: A tricky diagnosis?. The American Journal of Cardiology, 80(10), 1300–1304. doi:10.1016/S0002-9149(97)00669-3