The association between the J wave, a key component of the early repolarization pattern, and adverse cardiovascular outcomes remains unclear. Inconsistencies have stemmed from the different methods used to measure the J wave. We examined the association between the J wave, detected by an automated method, and adverse cardiovascular outcomes in 14,592 (mean age = 54 ± 5.8 years; 56% women; 26% black) participants from the Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities (ARIC) study. The J wave was detected at baseline (1987 to 1989) and during follow-up study visits (1990 to 1992, 1993 to 1995, and 1996 to 1998) using a fully automated method. Sudden cardiac death, coronary heart disease death, and cardiovascular mortality were ascertained from hospital discharge records, death certificates, and autopsy data through December 31, 2010. A total of 278 participants (1.9%) had evidence of a J wave. Over a median follow-up of 22 years, 4,376 of the participants (30%) died. In a multivariable Cox regression analysis adjusted for demographics, cardiovascular risk factors, and potential confounders, the J wave was not associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiac death (hazard ratio [HR] 0.74, 95% CI 0.36 to 1.50), coronary heart disease death (HR 0.72, 95% CI 0.40 to 1.32), or cardiovascular mortality (HR 1.16, 95% CI 0.87 to 1.56). An interaction was detected for cardiovascular mortality by gender with men (HR 1.54, 95% CI 1.09 to 2.19) having a stronger association than women (HR 0.74, 95% CI 0.43 to 1.25; P-interaction = 0.030). In conclusion, our findings suggest that the J wave is a benign entity that is not associated with an increased risk for sudden cardiac arrest in middle-aged adults in the United States.
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