Introduction: Abnormal repolarization is one of the acknowledged mechanisms leading to malignant ventricular arrhythmias. We used a novel magnetocardiographic technique to investigate the role of inhomogeneous repolarization in patients with nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy prone to sustained ventricular arrhythmias.
Methods and results: Forty-nine dilated cardiomyopathy patients were studied, 18 with a history of sustained ventricular tachycardia (n = 6) or ventricular fibrillation (n = 12) and 31 with no ventricular arrhythmias. The magnetocardiogram was registered and QT apex and QT end intervals were determined by a computer algorithm. Inhomogeneity of repolarization was characterized with indices describing QT apex and QT end dispersion, and T wave end duration. In addition, time-domain late fields of the QRS complex in magnetocardiography and QT dispersion in 12-lead ECG were determined. T wave end was longer in the arrhythmia group in patients with sinus rhythm (87 +/- 15 msec vs 73 +/- 12 msec; P = 0.005) and in those not having bundle branch block. Magnetocardiographic late fields of the QRS complex were not different between groups. QT apex and end dispersion on magnetocardiography or 12-lead ECG showed no difference.
Conclusion: Prolongation of the end part of the T wave revealed by magnetocardiography is related to malignant ventricular arrhythmias in dilated cardiomyopathy. The results suggest that abnormal repolarization rather than delayed conduction underlies the arrhythmias in this disease.