Background/aims: Previous investigations have shown a prolonged QT interval in some patients with cirrhosis. The aim of this study was to investigate the relation between electrical and mechanical systole in patients with different degrees of severity of cirrhosis.
Methods: Forty-eight patients with cirrhosis and portal hypertension, studied during a haemodynamic investigation, were compared to 17 controls.
Results: A prolonged QTc (above 0.440 s(1/2)) was found in 37% of the cirrhotic patients vs. 5.9% in the controls (P=0.03), and there was a correlation to liver dysfunction (P<0.02). A direct relation between QT and time of mechanical systole (tS) was observed in controls (r=0.58, P<0.01), and cirrhotic patients (r=0.44, P<0.002). In patients with a prolonged QTc interval, the difference between electrical and mechanical systole time was substantially longer than in patients with a normal QTc interval (0.078 vs. 0.031 s, P<0.005). The QT values were related to markers of hyperdynamic circulation (r=-0.48 to 0.56, P<0.05-0.001). CONCLUSIONS; Prolonged repolarization, as evidenced by prolonged QTc, is related to both impaired liver function and systemic circulatory dysfunction. In addition these patients have alterations in the cardiac excitation-contraction relation with compromised association between electrical and mechanical function.