Electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormalities are prevalent in middle aged and are associated with risk of adverse cardiovascular events. It is unclear whether and to what extent traditional risk factors are associated with the development of ECG abnormalities. To determine whether traditional cardiovascular risk factors are associated with the presence or development of ECG abnormalities, we performed a systematic review of the English-language literature for cross-sectional and prospective studies examining associations between traditional cardiovascular risk factors and ECG abnormalities, including major and minor ECG abnormalities, isolated nonspecific ST-segment and T-wave abnormalities, other ST-segment and T-wave abnormalities, QT interval, Q waves, and QRS duration. Of the 202 papers initially identified, 19 were eligible for inclusion. We examined data analyzing risk factor associations with ECG abnormalities in individuals free of cardiovascular disease. For composite major or minor ECG abnormalities, black race, older age, higher blood pressure, use of antihypertensive medications, higher body mass index, diabetes, smoking, and evidence of left ventricular hypertrophy or higher left ventricular mass are the factors most commonly associated with prevalence and incidence. Risk factor associations differ somewhat according to types of specific ECG abnormalities. Because major and minor ECG abnormalities have important and independent prognostic significance, understanding the groups at risk for their development may inform prevention strategies focused on modifiable risk factors to reduce the burden of ECG abnormalities, which may in turn promote CVD prevention.
- cardiovascular disease
- risk factors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine