News | February 04, 2009

New Study Confirms Gender Impacts Risk of Arrhythmias

February 3, 2009 - New research proves increased QT variability is an independent predictor of ventricular tachycardia (VT) or ventricular fibrillation (VF) in men, while in women, QT variability alone does not pose a risk of arrhythmic events.

The new study published in the February edition of the HeartRhythm Journal, the official journal of the Heart Rhythm Society, confirms that gender does in fact play a significant role in predicting the risk of VT/VF. The study goes on to reveal that QT variability, when not correlated to heart rate variability, is a uniquely significant predictor of arrhythmic events in women.

The study, led by Mark C. P. Haigney, M.D., division of cardiology at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland, derived a patient population from those enrolled in the Multicenter Automatic Defibrillator Trial (MADIT) II. Patients of the MADIT II study underwent 10-minute, resting digitized recordings at study entry and both QT and heart rate were measured for each beat with a semiautomated method. The incidence of VT/VF was determined by ICD interrogation. Utilizing data from the MADIT II study, Dr. Haigney compared QT variability and heart rate in both men and women to determine if these values influence the occurrence of VT/VF and whether or not gender impacts the risk.

From the MADIT II patient population of 1,232, there were 805 usable recordings identified – 663 men and 142 females. During a follow-up period averaging 2.6 years, study analysis found increase QT variability or heart rate variance was associated with a significantly higher risk of VT/VF in men, but not in women. While reduced coherence, QT variability dissociated from heart rate variability, predicted VT/VF in women, reduced coherence was not predictive in men.

“While it is well-established that gender plays a role in the incidence of arrhythmic events, our study attempted to identify the specific predictors of VT/VF and how they vary in men and women,” Dr. Haigney said. “Our findings confirm that different measures of variability in QT and heart rate determine the level of risk for men and women and we hope that eventually these measures may be used to test exactly who is at risk of VT/VF.”

The results of this study identify two types of measures of variability that appear to have different prognostic value depending on the gender of the patient – QT variability for men and low coherence in women. Therefore, measuring variance in QT and heart rate may allow for a better prediction of which patients are at risk of VT/VF and will benefit from implantable cardioverter defibrillator therapy.

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