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      Diagnostic electrocardiographic dyad criteria of emphysema in left ventricular hypertrophy

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          The electrocardiographic diagnostic dyad of emphysema, namely a combination of the frontal vertical P-vector and a narrow QRS duration, can serve as a quasidiagnostic marker for emphysema, with specificity close to 100%. We postulated that the presence of left ventricular hypertrophy in emphysema may affect the sensitivity of this electrocardiographic criterion given that left ventricular hypertrophy generates prominent left ventricular forces and may increase the QRS duration.


          We reviewed the electrocardiograms and echocardiograms for 73 patients with emphysema. The patients were divided into two groups based on the presence or absence of echocardiographic evidence of left ventricular hypertrophy. The P-vector, QRS duration, and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV 1) were computed and compared between the two subgroups.


          There was no statistically significant difference in qualitative lung function (FEV 1) between the subgroups. There was no statistically significant difference in mean P-vector between the subgroups. The mean QRS duration was significantly longer in patients with left ventricular hypertrophy as compared with those without left ventricular hypertrophy.


          The presence of left ventricular hypertrophy may not affect the sensitivity of the P-vector verticalization when used as a lone criterion for diagnosing emphysema. However, the presence of left ventricular hypertrophy may significantly reduce the sensitivity of the electrocardiographic diagnostic dyad in emphysema, as it causes a widening of the QRS duration.

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          Most cited references 18

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          Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

           Chris Barnes (2000)
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            Vertical P-wave axis: the electrocardiographic synonym for pulmonary emphysema and its severity.

            The correlation between vertical P-wave axis (P-axis > 60°) and pulmonary emphysema was investigated on a very large controlled series to see if P-axis verticalisation as lone criterion can be effectively used to screen emphysema in general population. Correlation between degrees of P-axis verticalisation and the severity of the obstructive lung disease (as per global initiative for chronic obstructive lung disease [GOLD] criteria) was also studied to see if this criterion can be used for gross quantification of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in routine clinical practice. Around 6500 unselected, routine electrocardiograms (ECGs) were reviewed which yielded 600 ECGs with vertical P-axis in sinus rhythm. 635 ECGs from the same continuum were selected with P-axis ≤60° matched for patient's age and sex serving as controls. Charts were reviewed for the diagnosis of COPD and emphysema based on medical history, pulmonary function tests, and imaging studies. Prevalence of emphysema in patients with vertical P-axis was strikingly higher than in the control group: 85% vs 4.4%. The sensitivity and specificity of vertical P-axis for diagnosing emphysema was 94.76% and 86.47%, respectively. Vertical P-axis and forced expiratory volume (FEV1) were inversely correlated (Pearson correlation coefficient=-0.683). Prevalence of severe COPD was strikingly higher in patients with P-axis > 75° as compared to the group with P-axis 60°-75°: 96.3% vs 4.6%. Close to 80% of the emphysema patients with P-axis > 85° had very severe disease (FEV1 < 30%). P-axis verticalisation is highly effective for screening emphysema and degree of verticalisation provides a gross quantification of the disease. Copyright © 2012 Cardiological Society of India. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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              Electrocardiographic detection of emphysema.

              Emphysema of any pathogenesis (nearly always chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) verticalizes the frontal P-wave axis >60° in adults, which, as a single criterion, has screened for obstructive pulmonary disease. In patients with emphysema, the QRS was of a significantly shorter duration than that in matched control patients. We investigated whether combining these 2 criteria would better detect or screen for emphysema. From consecutive unselected daily electrocardiograms with sinus rhythm, 50 were selected with a P-wave axis of >60°. An equal control group from the same electrocardiogram continuum with a P-wave axis of ≤60° was matched for age and gender. The QRS durations were those measured by the electrocardiographic computer and manually verified individually. The charts were then reviewed for the diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and/or pulmonary emphysema according to the pulmonary function test and chest radiographic findings, respectively. The patients and controls were well matched demographically. Those with a vertical P axis had a strikingly greater incidence of emphysema than did the controls (86% vs 4%, respectively). The sensitivity of a P axis >60° was 96% and the specificity was 87%. The mean QRS duration with emphysema was significantly shorter (78 ± 8 vs 89 ± 6 ms, p 60° achieved a specificity of 100%, although the sensitivity decreased to 33%. We have reported multiple other cutpoints for each and for the combination. In conclusion, a P axis >60° can be used alone with very high sensitivity and specificity to detect emphysema. The verticality of the P axis is usually immediately visible in the limb leads; therefore, this could be a rapid screening test for emphysema. The specificity was increased when combined with a shortened QRS duration, at the cost of the sensitivity. Copyright © 2011. Published by Elsevier Inc.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                Dove Medical Press
                22 November 2013
                : 8
                : 591-594
                [1 ]Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Vincent Hospital, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA
                [2 ]Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Saint Vincent Hospital, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Lovely Chhabra, Saint Vincent Hospital, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 123 Summer Street, Worcester, MA 01608, USA, Tel +1 508 667 5052, Fax +1 888 598 6647, Email lovids@
                © 2013 Lanjewar et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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