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Prognostic significance of electrical alternans versus signal averaged electrocardiography in predicting the outcome of electrophysiological testing and arrhythmia-free survival
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Abstract

Objective To investigate the accuracy of signal averaged electrocardiography (SAECG) and measurement of microvolt level T wave alternans as predictors of susceptibility to ventricular arrhythmias.

Design Analysis of new data from a previously published prospective investigation.

Setting Electrophysiology laboratory of a major referral hospital.

Patients and interventions 43 patients, not on class I or class III antiarrhythmic drug treatment, undergoing invasive electrophysiological testing had SAECG and T wave alternans measurements. The SAECG was considered positive in the presence of one (SAECG-I) or two (SAECG-II) of three standard criteria. T wave alternans was considered positive if the alternans ratio exceeded 3.0.

Main outcome measures Inducibility of sustained ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation during electrophysiological testing, and 20 month arrhythmia-free survival.

Results The accuracy of T wave alternans in predicting the outcome of electrophysiological testing was 84% (p < 0.0001). Neither SAECG-I (accuracy 60%; p < 0.29) nor SAECG-II (accuracy 71%; p < 0.10) was a statistically significant predictor of electrophysiological testing. SAECG, T wave alternans, electrophysiological testing, and follow up data were available in 36 patients while not on class I or III antiarrhythmic agents. The accuracy of T wave alternans in predicting the outcome of arrhythmia-free survival was 86% (p < 0.030). Neither SAECG-I (accuracy 65%; p < 0.21) nor SAECG-II (accuracy 71%; p < 0.48) was a statistically significant predictor of arrhythmia-free survival.

Conclusions—T wave alternans was a highly significant predictor of the outcome of electrophysiological testing and arrhythmia-free survival, while SAECG was not a statistically significant predictor. Although these results need to be confirmed in prospective clinical studies, they suggest that T wave alternans may serve as a non-invasive probe for screening high risk populations for malignant ventricular arrhythmias.

  • electrophysiological testing
  • electrical alternans
  • signal averaged electrocardiography
  • arrhythmias
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