Relationship of ECG findings to phenotypic expression in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: a cardiac magnetic resonance study

Sara Dalila Luisella Delcrè, Paolo Di Donna, Stefano Leuzzi, Salvatore Miceli, Marta Bisi, Marco Scaglione, Domenico Caponi, Maria Rosa Conte, Franco Cecchi, Iacopo Olivotto, Fiorenzo Gaita
International Journal of Cardiology 2013 August 10, 167 (3): 1038-45

BACKGROUND: The 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) is considered an essential screening tool for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). A vast array of ECG abnormalities has been described in HCM, although their relationship to left ventricle (LV) morphology and degree of hypertrophy appears elusive. Aim of this study was to assess the relationship of ECG patterns with the HCM phenotype assessed according to the novel opportunities offered by cardiac magnetic imaging (CMR).

METHODS: CMR and 12-lead ECG were performed in 257 HCM patients. Severity of ECG abnormalities was defined by the sum of 9 criteria: abnormal cardiac rhythm, QRS duration ≥ 100 ms, Romhilt-Estes score ≥ 5, fascicular block (LAHB) and/or bundle-branch block (LBBB or RBBB), ST-T abnormalities, ST-T segment elevation ≥ 0.2 mV, prolonged QTc interval, pathological Q waves, absence of normal Q wave. Four ECG groups were identified: normal (0 criteria); mildly abnormal (1-3 criteria); moderately abnormal (4-6 criteria); markedly abnormal (7-9 criteria).

RESULTS: There was a direct relationship between severity of ECG abnormalities and HCM phenotype. LV mass index was normal in most patients with normal ECG and progressively increased with each class of ECG score, from 70.9 ± 18.6g/m(2) in patients with normal ECG to 107.1 ± 55.1g/m(2) among those with markedly abnormal ECG (p=<0.0001). Likewise, the prevalence and extent of late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) increased significantly with the ECG score, from 37% in patients with normal ECG to 93% in patients with markedly abnormal ECG (overall p=0.0012). A normal ECG had a negative predictive accuracy of 96% for markedly increased LV mass (>91 g/m(2) for men and >69 g/m(2) for women), and of 100% for maximum LV thickness ≥ 30 mm.

CONCLUSIONS: In a large HCM cohort, the number and severity of ECG abnormalities were directly related to phenotypic expression as revealed by CMR. Although false negative ECG findings remain a challenge in population screenings for HCM, a normal ECG proved effective in ruling out severe LV hypertrophy, suggesting potential implications for long-term follow-up of HCM patients and family members. A simple score for quantification of ECG abnormalities in HCM patients is proposed.

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