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Ectopy on a Single 12-Lead ECG, Incident Cardiac Myopathy, and Death in the Community.

  • Author(s): Nguyen, Kaylin T
  • Vittinghoff, Eric
  • Dewland, Thomas A
  • Dukes, Jonathan W
  • Soliman, Elsayed Z
  • Stein, Phyllis K
  • Gottdiener, John S
  • Alonso, Alvaro
  • Chen, Lin Y
  • Psaty, Bruce M
  • Heckbert, Susan R
  • Marcus, Gregory M
  • et al.


Atrial fibrillation and heart failure are 2 of the most common diseases, yet ready means to identify individuals at risk are lacking. The 12-lead ECG is one of the most accessible tests in medicine. Our objective was to determine whether a premature atrial contraction observed on a standard 12-lead ECG would predict atrial fibrillation and mortality and whether a premature ventricular contraction would predict heart failure and mortality.

Methods and results

We utilized the CHS (Cardiovascular Health) Study, which followed 5577 participants for a median of 12 years, as the primary cohort. The ARIC (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study), the replication cohort, captured data from 15 792 participants over a median of 22 years. In the CHS, multivariable analyses revealed that a baseline 12-lead ECG premature atrial contraction predicted a 60% increased risk of atrial fibrillation (hazard ratio, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.3-2.0; P<0.001) and a premature ventricular contraction predicted a 30% increased risk of heart failure (hazard ratio, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.0-1.6; P=0.021). In the negative control analyses, neither predicted incident myocardial infarction. A premature atrial contraction was associated with a 30% increased risk of death (hazard ratio, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.1-1.5; P=0.008) and a premature ventricular contraction was associated with a 20% increased risk of death (hazard ratio, 1.2; 95% CI, 1.0-1.3; P=0.044). Similarly statistically significant results for each analysis were also observed in ARIC.


Based on a single standard ECG, a premature atrial contraction predicted incident atrial fibrillation and death and a premature ventricular contraction predicted incident heart failure and death, suggesting that this commonly used test may predict future disease.

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