The QTc interval, autonomic neuropathy and mortality in hypoxaemic COPD

Respir Med. 1995 Feb;89(2):79-84. doi: 10.1016/0954-6111(95)90188-4.


Patients with hypoxaemic chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have a subclinical autonomic neuropathy. Autonomic neuropathy has been associated with a prolonged electrocardiograph QTc interval and risk of ventricular arrhythmias and death. We studied cardiovascular autonomic nerve function and QTc interval at rest and during stress (a valsalva manoeuvre) in 34 patients with hypoxaemic COPD who were followed up after 2 yr. Seventeen patients had a subclinical autonomic neuropathy (group AN) and the remaining 17 were normal (group C). Group AN were significantly more hypoxaemic (PaO2 7.3 +/- 0.3 compared to 9.2 +/- 1.8, P < 0.05), had a lower FEV1 and had a longer QTc at rest (0.43 +/- 0.01 compared to 0.40 +/- 0.01, P < 0.01) and at peak valsalva (0.44 +/- 0.01 compared to 0.41 +/- 0.01, P < 0.05). When analysed after 2 yr, there were two deaths in group C and seven deaths in group AN. The QTc was abnormal > 0.44s at rest and at peak valsalva stress in five of group AN, three of these five patients died. QTc was normal at rest but abnormal at peak valsalva stress in eight further patients. This included three further patients from group AN of whom two had died and five group C patients which included both the group C deaths. The presence of autonomic neuropathy and QTc prolongation (> 0.44s) at rest was significantly associated (P < 0.05). Likewise QTc prolongation at the peak of a valsalva stress was significantly associated with death at 2 yr follow-up (P < 0.01) with an odds ratio of 11.1.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / mortality
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / mortality
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / mortality
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology