Heritability of ECG measurements in adult male twins

J Electrocardiol. 1998;30 Suppl:64-8. doi: 10.1016/s0022-0736(98)80034-4.


To assess the genetic contribution to electrocardiographic (ECG) measurements, heritability analysis was performed on ECG data collected on 251 pairs of adult male twins during the second examination of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute twin study, a multicenter study of cardiovascular risk factors. Resting 12-lead ECGs were obtained on each twin, pair and, the R-R, QRS, QT, and JT intervals were measured. Both the R-R and QT intervals demonstrated significant heritable components, accounting for 77% and 36%, respectively, of the variability. No significant heritable component of the QRS complex could be identified. Although the MZ intraclass correlation was higher than the DZ intraclass correlation, the JT interval did not demonstrate significant heritability. Therefore, in adult males both heart rate and the duration of ventricular repolarization have significant heritable components. These heritable components may need to be considered when using ECG measurements to screen for patients at risk for cardiovascular disorders or sudden cardiac death.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Twins / genetics*
  • Twins, Dizygotic / genetics
  • Twins, Monozygotic / genetics