Cardiac vulnerability assessment from electrical microvariability of high-resolution electrocardiogram

  • H. A. Kestler
  • J. Wöhrle
  • M. Höher


Patients susceptible to malignant arrhythmias often have an increased beat-to-beat variation of the T-wave of the electrocardiogram. Variability analysis of the T-wave is increasingly used for non-invasive risk assessment. The aim of this study is to evaluate intra-QRS beat-to-beat signal variation and to compare it to ST-T variation. The beat-to-beat, microvolt variation of the QRS and the ST-T segment from 44 patients with coronary heart disease at high risk of suffering from malignant arrhythmias and from 51 healthy volunteers are compared. Variation analysis is carried out on 250 consecutive sinus beats from high-resolution electrocardiograms. The individual beats are filtered using a waveform-independent, cubic spline-filter. A variability index of the QRS and ST-T segments is calculated as the integrated standard deviation of corresponding samples inside the area of interest. Patients at risk of suffering from malignant arrhythmias have a significantly higher variability index of both the QRS (median 44.5 ms against 34.7 ms, p<0.001) and the ST-T segment (median 20.5 ms against 9.8 ms, p<0.001) compared to the group of healthy subjects. The discriminative ability of the odds variability indices of the QRS and ST-T segments are not statistically different, the ratios being 7.8 (QRS) and 12.6 (ST-T). We conclude that patients at high risk of suffering from malignant arrhythmias are characterised by an increased beat-to-beat microvolt variation of both the QRS and the ST-T segment. Further studies are necessary to evaluate the prognostic potential of depolarisation variability.


High-resolution ECG QRS variability ST-T variability adaptive filtering ventricular tachycardia 


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© IFMBE 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine II University of UlmUlmGermany
  2. 2.Department of Neural Information Processing University of UlmUlmGermany

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