T wave alternans is a predictor of death in patients with congestive heart failure

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Few data are available about the prognostic role of T wave alternans in patients with congestive heart failure. To assess the ability of T wave alternans, used alone or in combination with other risk markers, to predict cardiac death in decompensated patients, we enrolled 46 patients, mean age 59±9, males 89%, ischemic etiology 61%, NYHA class III 35%, left ventricular ejection fraction 29±7%. After 1.6 years follow-up, seven patients died from cardiac death (16%), non-sudden in six (86%) and sudden in one (14%). T wave alternans was positive in 24 (52%), negative in 13 (28%), indeterminate in nine patients (20%). T wave alternans was positive in all patients with events (100%) but only in 16 of 37 patients without (41%) (P=0.02). Other predictors of cardiac death were O2 consumption at the peak of exercise (P=0.03), standard deviation of all NN intervals (P=0.05) and Wedge pressure (P=0.03). When receiver operator characteristics curves were calculated, the highest area (0.73) was found for O2 consumption at the peak of exercise considering the single variables and for O2 consumption at the peak of exercise plus T wave alternans (0.79) for combination of them; the comparison of the two receiver operator characteristics curves did not reach statistical difference (P=0.5). In conclusion, this is the first study reporting that T wave alternans can predict cardiac death, with a marginal additional prognostic power when used in combination with measurement of O2 consumption at the peak of exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-38
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004



  • Cardiac death
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Risk stratification
  • T wave alternans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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