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Prognostic Implications of Q Waves and T-Wave Inversion Associated With Early Repolarization



      To evaluate the prevalence of early polarization (ER) in a stable population and to evaluate the prognostic significance of the association or absence of Q waves or T-wave inversion (TWI).

      Patients and Methods

      In this retrospective study performed at the university-affiliated Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Health Care Center from March 1, 1987, through December 31, 1999, we evaluated outpatient electrocardiograms. Vital status and cause of death were determined in all patients, with a mean ± SD follow-up of 7.6±3.8 years.


      Of the 29,281 patients, 87% were men and 13% were African American. Inferior or lateral ER was present in 664 patients (2.3%): in inferior leads in 185 (0.6%), in lateral leads in 479 (1.6%) , and in both inferior and lateral leads in 163 (0.6%). Only when Q waves or TWI accompanied ER was there an increased risk of cardiovascular death (Cox proportional hazards regression model, 5.0; 95% confidence interval, 3.4-7.2; P<.001).


      Common patterns of ER without concomitant Q waves or TWI are not associated with increased risk of cardiovascular death; however, when either occurs with ER, there is a hazard ratio of 5.0. These findings confirm that ER is a benign entity; however, the presence of Q waves or TWI with ER is predictive of increased cardiovascular death.

      Abbreviations and Acronyms:

      CV (cardiovascular), ECG (electrocardiogram), ER (early repolarization), HR (hazard ratio), TWI (T-wave inversion), VA (Veterans Administration)
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