Introduction: Recent studies have implicated repolarization lability in the genesis of malignant ventricular arrhythmias. However, few data exist on assessment of temporal QT interval variability and its relation to arrhythmogenesis. We tested the ability of the QT variability index (QTVI), a measure of beat-to-beat QT interval fluctuations measured on a single ECG lead, to identify patients presenting with malignant ventricular arrhythmias and predict their subsequent occurrences.
Methods and results: We measured the QTVI in 95 patients presenting for electrophysiologic study (EPS). The ability of the QTVI to identify patients with sudden cardiac death (SCD) or sustained monomorphic ventricular tachycardia (MVT) on presentation and during follow-up of 23.7+/-14.3 months was compared with spatial QT dispersion, T wave alternans ratio during atrial pacing, MVT inducibility at EPS, signal-averaged ECG, heart rate variability, and ejection fraction. The QTVI was higher in patients with heart disease than in controls (-0.7+/-0.7 vs -1.1+/-0.5, P < 0.05), and higher in patients presenting with SCD than in other patients with heart disease (0.0+/-0.6 vs -0.8+/-0.5, P < 0.05). The QTVI was the only clinical variable that identified patients who presented with SCD (P = 0.004, odds ratio = 12.5) on stepwise, logistic multiple regression. Fourteen patients had arrhythmic events during follow-up. In a Kaplan-Meier analysis of arrhythmic events, QTVI> or =0.1 was a discriminator for higher risk of arrhythmic events (P < 0.05).
Conclusions: (1) This noninvasive measure of temporal repolarization lability identified patients with SCD and predicted arrhythmia-free survival. (2) Further studies are needed to determine the mechanisms that mediate beat-to-beat QT interval variability.