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Relation between QT and RR intervals is highly individual among healthy subjects: implications for heart rate correction of the QT interval
  1. M Malik,
  2. P Färbom,
  3. V Batchvarov,
  4. K Hnatkova,
  5. A J Camm
  1. Department of Cardiological Sciences, St George's Hospital Medical School, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 ORE, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr M Malik, Department of Cardiological Sciences, St George's Hospital Medical School, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 ORE, UK;


Objective: To compare the QT/RR relation in healthy subjects in order to investigate the differences in optimum heart rate correction of the QT interval.

Methods: 50 healthy volunteers (25 women, mean age 33.6 (9.5) years, range 19–59 years) took part. Each subject underwent serial 12 lead electrocardiographic monitoring over 24 hours with a 10 second ECG obtained every two minutes. QT intervals and heart rates were measured automatically. In each subject, the QT/RR relation was modelled using six generic regressions, including a linear model (QT = β + α × RR), a hyperbolic model (QT = β + α/RR), and a parabolic model (QT = β × RRα). For each model, the parallelism and identity of the regression lines in separate subjects were statistically tested.

Results: The patterns of the QT/RR relation were very different among subjects. Regardless of the generic form of the regression model, highly significant differences were found not only between the regression lines but also between their slopes. For instance, with the linear model, the individual slope (parameter α) of any subject differed highly significantly (p < 0.000001) from the linear slope of no fewer than 21 (median 32) other subjects. The linear regression line of 20 subjects differed significantly (p < 0.000001) from the linear regression lines of each other subject. Conversion of the QT/RR regressions to QTc heart rate correction also showed substantial intersubject differences. Optimisation of the formula QTc = QT/RRα led to individual values of α ranging from 0.234 to 0.486.

Conclusion: The QT/RR relation exhibits a very substantial intersubject variability in healthy volunteers. The hypothesis underlying each prospective heart rate correction formula that a “physiological” QT/RR relation exists that can be mathematically described and applied to all people is incorrect. Any general heart rate correction formula can be used only for very approximate clinical assessment of the QTc interval over a narrow window of resting heart rates. For detailed precise studies of the QTc interval (for example, drug induced QT interval prolongation), the individual QT/RR relation has to be taken into account.

  • repolarisation
  • heart rate correction
  • QT/RR relation
  • QTc interval
  • intersubject variability

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