Characterization of clinical and electrocardiographic findings in a youth population

Vilardell Rigau, Pau
Resting 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) has been employed in the evaluation of young asymptomatic subjects to detect pre-existing heart diseases. Although the incorporation of routine ECG remains controversial, there is increasing evidence that cardiomyopathies and ion channelopathies show ECG changes as the initial manifestation. The causes of sudden cardiac death in young people show a significant geographical variation. We aim to determine the prevalence and spectrum of ECG findings in a youth population. Methodology: From May 2010 to April 2013, a total of 976 young secondary school students (mean age, 14 years; range, 13-15) underwent voluntary medical screening that included a resting 12-lead ECG and structured clinical survey. Subjects with abnormal ECG findings were classified into two groups: major ECG findings group, which fulfilled a pre-specified checklist to screen for principal structural and electrical cardiopathies, and minor ECG findings group showing other ECG changes. The major ECG findings group was referred for secondary diagnostic tests at a tertiary institution. Results: Of the 976 subjects screened, 252 (25.82%; CI95%, 23.17-28.66) had ECG findings. Of note, 17 (1.74%) had major findings and 235 (24.08%) had minor findings on ECG. The prevalence of cardiovascular pathology within the major ECG findings group was 35.29%. The prevalence of ECG abnormalities was significantly higher in males than in females (29% vs 20.9%, P<0.01). Conclusions: The prevalence of ECG findings in a youth population was 25.82%. There were significant gender differences. The inclusion of universal ECG screening, in addition to medical history, may increase the sensitivity of a cardiovascular screening program. Knowledge of the spectrum and prevalence of ECG findings and disease conditions would be pivotal in designing customized screening programs ​
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