Electrocardiographic QRS duration at rest is associated with sudden cardiac death and death from coronary heart disease in the general population. However, its relation to cardiovascular events in American Indians, a population with persistently high cardiovascular disease mortality, is unknown. The relation of QRS duration to incident cardiovascular disease during 17.2 years of follow-up was assessed in 1,851 male and female Strong Heart Study participants aged 45 to 74 years without known cardiovascular disease at baseline. Cox regression with robust standard error estimates was used to determine the association between quintiles of QRS duration and incident cardiovascular disease in gender-stratified analyses, adjusted for age, systolic blood pressure, hypertension, antihypertensive medication use, body mass index, current smoking, diabetes, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and albuminuria. In women only, QRS duration in the highest quintile (≥105 ms) conferred significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease than QRS duration in the lowest quintile (64 to 84 ms) (hazard ratio 1.6, 95% CI 1.1 to 2.4) likely because of higher risks of coronary heart disease (hazard ratio 1.8, 95% CI 1.1 to 3.1) and myocardial infarction (hazard ratio 2.1, 95% CI 1.0 to 4.7). Furthermore, when added to the Strong Heart Study Coronary Heart Disease Risk Calculator, QRS duration significantly improved prediction of future coronary heart disease events in women (Net Reclassification Index 0.17, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.47). In conclusion, QRS duration is an independent predictor of cardiovascular disease in women in the Strong Heart Study cohort and may have value in estimating risk in populations with similar risk profiles and a high lifetime incidence of cardiovascular disease.
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