Associations between common ECG abnormalities and out-of-hospital cardiac arrest

Marc Meller Søndergaard, Jonas Bille Nielsen, Rikke Nørmark Mortensen, Gunnar Gislason, Lars Køber, Freddy Lippert, Claus Graff, Stig Haunsø, Jesper Hastrup Svendsen, Kristian Hay Kragholm, Adrian Holger Pietersen, Bent Struer Lind, Søren Pihlkjær Hjortshøj, Anders Gaarsdal Holst, Johannes Jan Struijk, Christian Torp-Pedersen, Steen Møller Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Background: Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) is often the first manifestation of unrecognised cardiac disease. ECG abnormalities encountered in primary care settings may be warning signs of OHCA.

Objective: We examined the association between common ECG abnormalities and OHCA in a primary care setting.

Methods: We cross-linked individuals who had an ECG recording between 2001 and 2011 in a primary care setting with the Danish Cardiac Arrest Registry and identified OHCAs of presumed cardiac cause.

Results: A total of 326 227 individuals were included and 2667 (0,8%) suffered an OHCA. In Cox regression analyses, adjusted for age and sex, the following ECG findings were strongly associated with OHCA: ST-depression without concomitant atrial fibrillation (HR 2.79; 95% CI 2.45 to 3.18), left bundle branch block (LBBB; HR 3.44; 95% CI 2.85 to 4.14) and non-specific intraventricular block (NSIB; HR 3.15; 95% CI 2.58 to 3.83). Also associated with OHCA were atrial fibrillation (HR 1.89; 95% CI 1.63 to 2.18), Q-wave (HR 1.75; 95% CI 1.57 to 1.95), Cornell and Sokolow-Lyon criteria for left ventricular hypertrophy (HR 1.56; 95% CI 1.33 to 1.82 and HR 1.27; 95% CI 1.12 to 1.45, respectively), ST-elevation (HR 1.40; 95% CI 1.09 to 1.54) and right bundle branch block (HR 1.29; 95% CI 1.09 to 1.54). The association between ST-depression and OHCA diminished with concomitant atrial fibrillation (HR 1.79; 95% CI 1.42 to 2.24, p < 0.01 for interaction). Among patients suffering from OHCA, without a known cardiac disease at the time of the cardiac arrest, 14.2 % had LBBB, NSIB or ST-depression.

Conclusions: Several common ECG findings obtained from a primary care setting are associated with OHCA.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000905
JournalOpen Heart
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • ECG
  • cardiac disease
  • out-of-hospital cardiac arrest
  • risk

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