HealthDay News — Fragmented QRS complex may predict risk of exercise-related sudden cardiac death, according to a study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology.

Tomi Toukola, MD, from the University of Oulu in Finland, and colleagues studied 3989 consecutive sudden cardiac deaths in northern Finland (1998 through 2012). Of the identified deaths, 647 subjects had a previously recorded electrocardiography acquired from hospital archives.

The researchers found that in 276 of these cases, the death was witnessed, and 14% of those cases occurred during physical activity

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In the exercise group, fragmented QRS complex in at least two consecutive leads within anterior leads (V1-V3) was more common compared with the rest group (43% vs 22%; P =.005). Similarly, pathologic Q wave in anterior leads was also more common in the exercise group (23% vs 11%; P = .044). Lastly, compared with the rest group, median QRS duration was prolonged in the exercise group (100 ms vs 94 ms; P =.047).

“Fragmented QRS complex in the anterior leads is associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiac death during physical exercise,” conclude the authors.

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Toukola T, Junttila J, Holmstrom LTA, et al. Fragmented QRS complex as a predictor of exercise-related sudden cardiac death [published online September 20, 2017]. J Cardiovasc Electrophysio. doi: 10.1111/jce.13341