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Abnormal EKG can predict death in stroke patients
Date:3/19/2009

People who suffer an ischemic stroke and also have an abnormality in the heart's electrical cycle are at a higher risk of death within 90 days than people who do not have abnormal electrical activity at the time of emergency treatment, according to new research.

The study also provides a threshold at which the threat of death is highest: QTc intervals greater than 440 milliseconds in women and 438 milliseconds in men have the worst prognosis. The findings are published online March 20, 2009, in the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases.

"From a clinical perspective, our study offers additional parameters to consider while treating stroke patients in the Emergency Department setting,' said corresponding author Latha G. Stead, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, who recently joined the URMC from the Mayo Clinic. "It appears that reviewing the medications a patient is taking and looking specifically for those that might prolong the QTc interval would be a useful practice."

The QTc interval is a measure of the electrical activity of the heart. An EKG records the waves of activity and its pattern, which is labeled with letters Q and T. Doctors look for the appropriate intervals between each letter, showing that the heart's electrical signals are steadily passing through the ventricles. A prolonged QTc interval means it takes too long for the electrical signal to pass.

Prolonged QTc intervals can be the result of a rare genetic disorder, medications, electrolyte imbalances, or congenital heart disease. Scientific data on the relationship between abnormal QTc intervals and death has been inconsistent, and few studies have looked at this relationship in the context of acute ischemic stroke, Stead said.

Researchers studied the medical records of 345 ischemic stroke patients at the Mayo Clinic, treated between 2001 and 2004, and f
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Contact: Leslie Orr
Leslie_Orr@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-5774
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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