Prognostic value of changes in the electrocardiographic strain pattern during antihypertensive treatment: the Losartan Intervention for End-Point Reduction in Hypertension Study (LIFE)

Peter M Okin, Lasse Oikarinen, Matti Viitasalo, Lauri Toivonen, Sverre E Kjeldsen, Markku S Nieminen, Jonathan M Edelman, Björn Dahlöf, Richard B Devereux
Circulation 2009 April 14, 119 (14): 1883-91

BACKGROUND: The presence of the ECG strain pattern of lateral ST depression and T-wave inversion at baseline has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality; however, the independent predictive value for cardiovascular outcomes of regression versus persistence versus development of new ECG strain during antihypertensive therapy is unclear.

METHODS AND RESULTS: ECG strain was evaluated at baseline and after 1 year of therapy in 7409 hypertensive patients in the LIFE study (Losartan Intervention For End-point reduction in hypertension) treated in a blinded manner with atenolol- or losartan-based regimens. During 3.8+/-0.8 years of follow-up after the year 1 ECG, cardiovascular death occurred in 236 patients (3.2%), myocardial infarction in 198 (2.7%), stroke in 313 (4.2%), the LIFE composite end point of these 3 events in 600 (8.1%), sudden death in 92 (1.2%), and death due to any cause in 486 (6.6%). Strain was absent on both baseline and year 1 ECGs in 6323 patients (85.3%), regressed from baseline to year 1 in 245 (3.3%), persisted on both ECGs in 549 (7.4%), and was absent at baseline but developed by year 1 in 292 patients (3.9%). Compared with absence of strain on both ECGs, development of new ECG strain was associated with 2.8- to 4.7-fold higher event rates; patients with regression or persistence of strain had intermediate event rates. In Cox multivariable analyses with adjustment for the known predictive value of in-treatment ECG left ventricular hypertrophy by Cornell product and Sokolow-Lyon voltage, in-treatment systolic and diastolic pressure, randomized treatment, and standard cardiovascular risk factors, development of new ECG strain was independently associated with increased risks of cardiovascular death (hazard ratio [HR] 2.42, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.56 to 3.76), myocardial infarction (HR 1.95, 95% CI 1.11 to 3.44), stroke (HR 1.98, 95% CI 1.30 to 3.01), the LIFE composite end point (HR 2.05, 95% CI 1.51 to 2.78), sudden cardiac death (HR 2.19, 95% CI 1.06 to 4.53), and all-cause mortality (HR 1.92, 95% CI 1.37 to 2.69), whereas the risk associated with regression or persistence of strain was attenuated.

CONCLUSIONS: Development of new ECG strain is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and of all-cause mortality in the setting of antihypertensive therapy and regression of ECG left ventricular hypertrophy.

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