We hypothesized that maintaining a normal electrocardiogram (ECG) status over time is associated with low cardiovascular (CV) disease in a dose-response fashion and subsequently could be used to monitor programs aimed at promoting CV health. This analysis included 4,856 CV disease-free participants from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study who had a normal ECG at baseline (1987 to 1989) and complete electrocardiographic data in subsequent 3 visits (1990 to 1992, 1993 to 1995, and 1996 to 1998). Participants were classified based on maintaining their normal ECG status during these 4 visits into “maintained,” “not maintained,” or “inconsistent” normal ECG status as defined by the Minnesota ECG classification. CV disease events (coronary heart disease, heart failure, and stroke) were adjudicated from Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities visit-4 through 2010. Over a median follow-up of 13.2 years, 885 CV disease events occurred. The incidence rate of CV disease events was lowest among study participants who maintained a normal ECG status, followed by those with an inconsistent pattern, and then those who did not maintain their normal ECG status (trend p value <0.001). Similarly, the greater the number of visits with a normal ECG status, the lower was the incidence rate of CV disease events (trend p value <0.001). Maintaining (vs not maintaining) a normal ECG status was associated with a lower risk of CV disease, which was lower than that observed in those with inconsistent normal ECG pattern (trend p value <0.01). In conclusion, maintaining a normal ECG status over time is associated with low risk of CV disease in a dose-response fashion, suggesting its potential use as a monitoring tool for programs promoting CV health.
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© 2016 Elsevier Inc.