Screening entire health system ecg databases to identify patients at increased risk of death

David G. Strauss, Nathan Mewton, Richard L. Verrier, Bruce D. Nearing, Francis E. Marchlinski, Tony Killian, John Moxley, Larisa G. Tereshchenko, Katherine C. Wu, Raimond Winslow, Christopher Cox, Peter M. Spooner, João A.C. Lima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background-Current methods to identify patients at higher risk for sudden cardiac death, primarily left ventricular ejection fraction =35%, miss ̃80% of patients who die suddenly. We tested the hypothesis that patients with elevated QRS-scores (index of myocardial scar) and wide QRS-T angles (index abnormal depolarization-repolarization relationship) have high 1-year all-cause mortality and could be further risk stratified with clinical characteristics. Methods and Results-We screened all 12-lead ECGs over 6 months at 2 large hospital systems and analyzed clinical characteristics and 1-year mortality. Patients with ECGs obtained in hospital areas with known high mortality rates were excluded. At the first hospital, QRS-score =5 and QRS-T angle =105° identified 8.0% of patients and was associated with an odds ratio of 2.79 (95% confidence interval, 2.10-3.69) for 1-year mortality compared with patients below both ECG thresholds (13.9% versus 5.5% death rate). Left ventricular ejection fraction was >35% in 82% of the former group of patients, and addition of ECG measures to left ventricular ejection fraction increased the discrimination of death risk (P<0.0001). At the second hospital, the odds ratio was 2.42 (1.95-3.01) for 1-year mortality (8.8% versus 3.8%). Adjustment for patient characteristics eliminated interhospital differences. Multivariable adjusted odds ratio combining data from both hospitals was 1.53 (1.28-1.83). Increasing heart rate and chronic renal impairment further predicted mortality. Conclusions-Screening hospital ECG databases with QRS-scoring and QRS-T angle analysis identifies patients with high 1-year all-cause mortality and predominantly preserved left ventricular ejection fraction. This approach may represent a widely available method to identify patients at increased risk of death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1156-1162
Number of pages7
JournalCirculation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Arrhythmias
  • Cardiac
  • Death
  • Electrocardiography
  • Fibrosis
  • Mass screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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