Objectives: We sought to demonstrate the prevalence, incidence and prognostic value of the Brugada-type electrocardiogram (ECG) in a general population.
Background: The Brugada syndrome is characterized by evidence of right bundle branch block and ST segment elevation in the right precordial leads, as well as sudden death caused by ventricular fibrillation. However, the natural history of the Brugada-type ECG remains unclear.
Methods: We investigated 4,788 subjects (1,956 men and 2,832 women) who were <50 years old in 1958 and had undergone biennial health examinations, including electrocardiography, through 1999. The Brugada-type ECG was defined as a terminal r' wave in lead V(1) and ST segment elevation > or =0.1 mV in leads V(1) and V(2). Unexpected death was defined as sudden death or unexplained accidental death.
Results: There were a total of 32 Brugada-type ECG cases; the prevalence and incidence were 146.2 in 100,000 persons and 14.2 persons per 100,000 person-years, respectively. The incidence was nine times higher among men than women, and the average age at presentation was 45 +/- 10.5 years. The Brugada-type ECG appeared intermittently in most cases and was found in 26% of subjects who died unexpectedly. Cox survival analysis revealed that mortality from unexpected death was significantly higher in subjects with a Brugada-type ECG than in control subjects (p < 0.01). Unexpected deaths were more frequent among subjects with the Brugada-type ECG who had a history of syncope (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: The Brugada-type ECG is not a very rare condition in the adult Japanese population. Subjects with a Brugada-type ECG have an increased risk of unexpected death.