Objective: To determine the incidence, risk factors and prognosis of regular narrow QRS complex tachycardia (NQT), which develops in the absence of pre-excitation in subjects free from ischemic heart disease in the Manitoba Follow-up Study.
Design and setting: The Manitoba Follow-up Study is a longitudinal cardiovascular study of 3983 initially healthy men (primarily living in Canada) followed prospectively for 40 years. Risk factors and prognosis were assessed in a nested case-control study.
Main results: Twenty-two individuals were diagnosed with NQT before clinical and/or electrocardiographic manifestation of ischemic heart disease (145,408 person-years of observation). Between the ages of 30 and 80, the incidence of NQT was one per 6000 person-years and increased with age. History of childhood diseases, valvular disease, smoking, elevated blood pressure and body mass index did not increase the likelihood for NQT development. NQT was diagnosed concurrently with a serious noncardiac condition in seven cases; excess mortality resulted as six of these subjects died within one year of NQT diagnosis while only two subjects without concurrent disease at NQT diagnosis died during follow-up. In comparison with 2% of control subjects, 27% of subjects with NQT subsequently developed electrocardiographical evidence of atrial fibrillation (relative risk was 12 with lower 95% confidence limit of 1.8).
Conclusions: NQT in an otherwise healthy individual is a benign condition and increases the likelihood of atrial fibrillation development.