Changes in T wave morphology during hypercalcemia and its relation to the severity of hypercalcemia

J Electrocardiol. 1989 Apr;22(2):125-32. doi: 10.1016/0022-0736(89)90081-2.


The effect of hypercalcemia on T wave morphology, polarity, and amplitude was studied in 14 patients with a primary diagnosis of malignant lymphoma (8 patients), adult T-cell leukemia (5 patients), and Hodgkin's disease (1 patient). Hypercalcemia was severe to extreme in 11 (14.9-22.8 mg/dl), moderate in 1 (13.4 mg/dl), and mild in 2 (11.8 and 12.2 mg/dl) patients. Ten of the 11 patients (91%) with severe hypercalcemia showed inverted, biphasic, and notched T waves, mainly in the chest leads. Notched T waves were observed in all 10 of these patients in anterior to lateral, mid to lateral, or lateral chest leads. Biphasic and/or inverted T waves in anterior or anterior to midchest leads were present in 4 of these 10 patients who had extreme hypercalcemia (greater than 16 mg/dl). Changes in T wave morphology were not observed in moderate or mild hypercalcemia. T wave amplitude showed significant inverse correlation with serum calcium (T mV vs Ca, r = -0.60, p less than 0.001; T/R ratio vs Ca, r = -0.68, p less than 0.001; n = 35). Decrease in T wave amplitude was marked in severe hypercalcemia (p less than 0.0001) and moderate hypercalcemia, but there was no change in mild hypercalcemia. Changes in T wave morphology, polarity, and amplitude either appeared with development of hypercalcemia or disappeared with normalization of serum calcium level. It was concluded that in addition to shortening the QT interval, severe to extreme hypercalcemia can cause development of inverted, biphasic, or notched T wave with a marked decrease in amplitude of T waves.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Calcium / blood
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercalcemia / blood
  • Hypercalcemia / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Potassium / blood


  • Potassium
  • Calcium