Measurement of high resolution ECG QT interval during controlled euglycaemia and hypoglycaemia

Physiol Meas. 2000 May;21(2):295-303. doi: 10.1088/0967-3334/21/2/309.


During hypoglycaemia, typically there is a change in the surface ECG characterized by a flattened and prolonged T wave, often accompanied by a fused U wave. The QT interval is a useful parameter for quantifying the ECG morphology. However, reliable measurement of QT is not straightforward, particularly for hypoglycaemic ECG morphology. The objective of this study was to compare the ability of two methods of QT measurement to distinguish between ECGs recorded during euglycaemia and hypoglycaemia. The first method involves manually setting the intersection of the isoelectric line and the T wave or, where this is not possible, the nadir between the T and U wave. The second method is semi-automatic and fits a tangent to the point of maximum gradient on the downward slope of the T wave. Two independent observers used both methods to measure the QT for high resolution ECG data recorded during a study of 17 non-diabetic subjects undergoing controlled euglycaemia and hypoglycaemia. Using the mean results of the two observers, the mean +/- SD increase in heart rate corrected QT, QTc, for ECGs recorded during euglycaemia and hypoglycaemia was 32 +/- 25 ms for the non-tangent method and 60 +/- 24 ms for the tangent method. Therefore, the tangent method provides greater distinction between ECGs recorded during euglycaemia and hypoglycaemia than the non-tangent method. A potential clinical application could be the non-invasive detection of impending hypoglycaemia at night, which would be of significant benefit to adults and young children with diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / diagnosis*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology
  • Blood Glucose / physiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Electrocardiography / methods*
  • Electrocardiography / statistics & numerical data
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / complications*
  • Hypoglycemia / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Observer Variation


  • Blood Glucose