Abnormal Electrocardiogram Predicts Future Risk in Women

Minor, major abnormalities linked to higher risk of future cardiovascular events in postmenopausal women

TUESDAY, March 6 (HealthDay News) -- Postmenopausal women without symptoms of cardiovascular disease but who have minor or major abnormalities on an electrocardiogram are more likely to have a future cardiovascular event compared to those with normal results, according to study findings published in the March 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Pablo Denes, M.D., of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data on 14,749 postmenopausal women, of whom 9,744 had no electrocardiogram abnormalities, 4,095 had minor abnormalities and 910 had major abnormalities. Among the normal electrocardiogram group, there were 118 cardiac events. There were 91 events among the minor abnormalities group and 37 among those with major abnormalities, generating an incidence rate per 10,000 women of 21, 40 and 75 for the three groups, respectively.

All the subjects were taking hormone therapy or a matching placebo, and the hormone therapy did not affect the risk prediction ability of the electrocardiogram results.

"Given the low cost, wide availability and ease of interpretation, the electrocardiogram may be a useful tool for assisting in the prediction of future cardiovascular events in asymptomatic postmenopausal women. The presence of electrocardiogram abnormalities should prompt physicians to consider further risk stratification, more intensive therapeutic interventions, or both, on modifiable risk factors for primary prevention of cardiovascular events," the authors conclude.

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