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Routine electrocardiograms predict health risks for patients with atrial fibrillation
Date:10/27/2012

Canadian scientists have determined that routine electrocardiogram (ECG) results for patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) the most common form of irregular heart beat can help doctors identify those at higher risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes, including death. This knowledge will help doctors improve the treatment and prognosis of atrial fibrillation.

Through a retrospective analysis of thousands of patient files, researchers at the Montreal Heart Institute and the University of Calgary learned that a routine 12-lead surface ECG in which 12 different electrical signals are recorded conducted at the time of AF diagnosis is an accurate predictor of later adverse events.

Research presented today at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress found that patients with AF do not all face the same risks for disease; determining the extent to which any individual patient is at risk of adverse events has been a challenge for doctors, until now.

"The ECG has recently received resurging attention due to its simplicity, relatively cheap cost and near universal availability," says Dr. Jason Andrade, cardiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute. "This knowledge, combined with the recognition that all patients with AF will receive an ECG as part of their diagnostic work-up, makes it highly useful as a method for assessing risk."

ECG is used to measure the rate and regularity of heartbeats, as well as the size and position of the chambers, the presence of any damage to the heart and the effects of drugs or devices used to regulate the heart, such as a pacemaker

Researchers found that the strongest indicators of risk were prolonged QRS duration and prolonged PR and QT intervals, each of which is a measure of electrical waves that regulate heart rhythm.

For example, a prolonged QRS duration is associated with an increased risk of multiple adverse cardiovascular outcomes including death and hospitalization.


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Contact: Jane-Diane Fraser
jfraser@hsf.ca
613-569-4361 x273
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Source:Eurekalert

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