Impact of the distance from the chest wall to the heart on surface ECG voltage in athletes. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine Hedman, K., Patti, A., Moneghetti, K. J., Hsu, D., Christle, J. W., Ashley, E., Hadley, D., Haddad, F., Froelicher, V. 2020; 6 (1): e000696


Objective: Available ECG criteria for detection of left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy have been reported to have limited diagnostic capability. Our goal was to describe how the distance between the chest wall and the left ventricle determined by echocardiography affected the relationship between ECG voltage and LV mass (LVM) in athletes.Methods: We retrospectively evaluated digitised ECG data from college athletes undergoing routine echocardiography as part of their preparticipation evaluation. Along with LV mass and volume, we determined the chest wall-LV distance in the parasternal short-axis and long-axis views from two-dimensional transthoracic echocardiographic images and explored the relation with ECG QRS voltages in all leads, as well as summed voltages as included in six major ECG-LVH criteria.Results: 239 athletes (43 women) were included (age 19±1years). In men, greater LV-chest wall distance was associated with higher R-wave amplitudes in leads aVL and I (R=0.20and R=0.25, both p<0.01), while in women greater distance was associated with higher R-amplitudes in V5 and V6 (R=0.42and R=0.34, both p<0.01). In women, the chest wall-LV distance was the only variable independently (and positively) associated with R V5 voltage, while LVM, height and weight contributed to the relationship in men.Conclusions: The chest wall-LV distance was weakly associated with ECG voltage in athletes. Inconsistent associations in men and women imply different intrathoracic factors affecting impedance and conductance between sexes. This may help explain the poor relationship between QRS voltage and LVM in athletes.

View details for DOI 10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000696

View details for PubMedID 32201618