Simple electrocardiographic measures improve sudden arrhythmic death prediction in coronary disease

Eur Heart J. 2020 Jun 1;41(21):1988-1999. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehaa177.


Aims: To determine whether the combination of standard electrocardiographic (ECG) markers reflecting domains of arrhythmic risk improves sudden and/or arrhythmic death (SAD) risk stratification in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD).

Methods and results: The association between ECG markers and SAD was examined in a derivation cohort (PREDETERMINE; N = 5462) with adjustment for clinical risk factors, left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), and competing risk. Competing outcome models assessed the differential association of ECG markers with SAD and competing mortality. The predictive value of a derived ECG score was then validated (ARTEMIS; N = 1900). In the derivation cohort, the 5-year cumulative incidence of SAD was 1.5% [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1-1.9] and 6.2% (95% CI 4.5-8.3) in those with a low- and high-risk ECG score, respectively (P for Δ < 0.001). A high-risk ECG score was more strongly associated with SAD than non-SAD mortality (adjusted hazard ratios = 2.87 vs. 1.38 respectively; P for Δ = 0.003) and the proportion of deaths due to SAD was greater in the high vs. low risk groups (24.9% vs. 16.5%, P for Δ = 0.03). Similar findings were observed in the validation cohort. The addition of ECG markers to a clinical risk factor model inclusive of LVEF improved indices of discrimination and reclassification in both derivation and validation cohorts, including correct reclassification of 28% of patients in the validation cohort [net reclassification improvement 28 (7-49%), P = 0.009].

Conclusion: For patients with CHD, an externally validated ECG score enriched for both absolute and proportional SAD risk and significantly improved risk stratification compared to standard clinical risk factors including LVEF.

Clinical trial registration: ID NCT01114269.

Keywords: Coronary heart disease; Electrocardiogram; Sudden death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Disease*
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / epidemiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology
  • Electrocardiography
  • Humans
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke Volume
  • Ventricular Function, Left*

Associated data