Electrocardiograms Help Predict Heart Failure

Study finding based on people with high blood pressure

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MONDAY, Jan. 9, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Electrocardiograms help predict the risk of congestive heart failure in people with high blood pressure, a new study says.

The study of 8,696 people with high blood pressure, also called hypertension, and no history of congestive heart failure (CHF) found that 923 of the patients had a unique and well-known electrocardiogram wave pattern called strain. These people had a more than three-fold increased risk of congestive heart failure, with a five-year rate of 8.8 percent, compared to 2.7 percent among people who didn't have ECG strain, the researchers said.

The people with ECG strain also had a nearly five-fold increased risk of congestive heart failure-related death. Their five-year CHF death rate was 1.2 percent, compared with 0.3 percent among people without ECG strain.

The study, by researchers at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, was published in the Jan. 4 issue of the journal Circulation.

"These findings suggest that more aggressive therapy may be warranted in hypertensive patients with ECG strain to reduce the risk of CHF and CHF mortality," study lead investigator Dr. Peter Okin, professor of medicine and director of clinical affairs in the Greenberg Division of Cardiology at Weill Medical College, said in a prepared statement.

Patients in the study who developed congestive heart failure were: older; more likely to be black; more likely to have diabetes and a prior history of ischemic heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease; were more overweight; and more likely to be current smokers, the researchers said.

Even after compensating for these factors, the researchers found that ECG strain was still associated with increased risk of congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart isn't able to pump enough blood to supply the body's organs. About five million Americans have congestive heart failure, the researchers said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about congestive heart failure.

SOURCE: New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, news release, Jan. 4, 2006

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