QT prolongation on the electrocardiogram in diabetic autonomic neuropathy

Diabet Med. 1990 Feb;7(2):105-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.1990.tb01342.x.


Patients with Type 1 diabetes and autonomic neuropathy have an increased risk of sudden death for which the mechanism remains obscure. Prolongation of the QT interval on the electrocardiogram may occur with sympathetic dysfunction and is also associated with ventricular arrhythmia and sudden death. We have therefore measured the QT interval in patients with Type 1 diabetes with normal, borderline, and definitely abnormal autonomic function tests and in non-diabetic control subjects. The maximum QT interval was measured on 12-lead electrocardiograms recorded at rest and then plotted against the RR interval. The QT interval was above the upper 95% limit for the non-diabetic control subjects in 5 diabetic patients with abnormal autonomic function tests (33%), but in no cases with normal or borderline tests. Multivariate analysis confirmed that autonomic score contributed significantly (p less than 0.025) to the variance in QT interval. The raw Valsalva ratio alone also contributed significantly to the variance in QT interval (p = 0.025). Heart rate variability, heart rate response to standing, age, sex, and the presence of symptoms of autonomic neuropathy did not contribute significantly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology*
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Long QT Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Posture
  • Reference Values
  • Valsalva Maneuver