Despite the low sensitivity of the electrocardiogram (ECG) in detecting left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), ECG-LVH is known to be a strong predictor of cardiovascular risk. Understanding reasons for the discrepancies in detection of LVH by ECG versus imaging could help improve the diagnostic ability of ECG. We examined factors associated with false-positive and false-negative ECG-LVH, using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as the gold standard. We also compared the prognostic significance of ECG-LVH and MRI-LVH as predictors of cardiovascular events. This analysis included 4,748 participants (mean age 61.9 years, 53.5% females, 61.7% nonwhites). Logistic regression with stepwise selection was used to identify factors associated with false-positive (n = 208) and false-negative (n = 387), compared with true-positive (n = 208) and true-negative (n = 4,041) ECG-LVH, respectively. A false-negative ECG-LVH status was associated with increased odds of Hispanic race/ethnicity, current smoking, hypertension, increased systolic blood pressure, prolongation of QRS duration, and higher body mass index and with lower odds of increased ejection fraction (model-generalized R(2) = 0.20). A false-positive ECG-LVH status was associated with lower odds of black race, Hispanic race/ethnicity, minor ST-T abnormalities, increased systolic blood pressure, and presence of any major electrocardiographic abnormalities (model-generalized R(2) = 0.29). Both ECG-LVH and MRI-LVH were associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease events (hazard ratio 1.51, 95% confidence interval 1.03 to 2.20 and hazard ratio 1.81, 95% confidence interval 1.33 to 2.46, respectively). In conclusion, discrepancy in LVH detection by ECG and MRI can be relatively improved by considering certain participant characteristics. Discrepancy in diagnostic performance, yet agreement on predictive ability, suggests that LVH by ECG and LVH by imaging are likely to be two distinct but somehow related phenotypes.
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