Prolonged QTc interval, impaired pulmonary function, and a very lean body mass jointly predict all-cause mortality in elderly men

Ann Epidemiol. 1998 Feb;8(2):99-106. doi: 10.1016/s1047-2797(97)00121-x.


Purpose: Assess the joint impact of prolonged QTc interval (QT interval corrected for heart rate), impaired lung function, and low body weight on all-cause mortality.

Methods: This is a population-based, prospective study of the Honolulu Heart Program cohort, performed in Oahu Island, Hawaii, during the 1991-1993 fourth examination of cohort survivors. The participants were 3056 Japanese-American men, 71 to 93 years of age. The measurement consisted of: 1) instrument calculated, heart rate corrected QT interval; 2) one second forced expiratory volume (FEV1) as a percentage of age- and height-predicted FEV1; and 3) body mass index (BMI, kg/m2). Relations of subsequent 3 1/2 year, on average, mortality rates with high risk states of these variables are determined. High risk states are QTc > 440 msec, percent predicted FEV1 < or = 80%, and BMI < or = 21 kg/m2.

Results: Mortality rates synergistically increase among groups with one, two, or three high risk states. Men having all three high risk states are seven times more likely to die in the follow-up period than men with no high risk conditions. Very thin men having one other high risk state, pulmonary impairment or prolonged QTc, are four times more likely to die. Excluding diabetics, active smokers, or men taking drugs affecting QT interval does not alter findings. Excluding prevalent coronary heart disease decreases mortality rates among joint high risk groups.

Conclusion: Results are consistent with clinical studies identifying an autonomic neuropathy associated with wasting chronic lung disease, prolonged QTc, and mortality. Aging populations in developed nations will increase the prevalence of diseases associated with these conditions in decades to come.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / mortality*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / ethnology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electrocardiography
  • Hawaii / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Japan / ethnology
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / mortality*
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical
  • Mortality / trends
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Thinness