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Prevalence of pre-transplant electrocardiographic abnormalities and post-transplant cardiac events in patients with liver cirrhosis

Journal article
Authors Axel Josefsson
Michael Fu
Einar Björnsson
Evangelos Kalaitzakis
Published in BMC Gastroenterology
Volume 14
Issue 65
ISSN 1471-230X
Publication year 2014
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition
Language en
Subject categories Clinical Medicine


Abstract Background Although cardiovascular disease is thouht to be common in cirrhosis, there are no systematic investigations on the prevalence of electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormalities in these patients and data on the occurrence of post-transplant cardiac events in comparison with the general population are lacking. We aimed to study the prevalence and predictors of ECG abnormalities in patients with cirrhosis undergoing liver transplantation and to define the risk of cardiac events post-transplant compared to the general population. Methods Cirrhotic patients undergoing first-time liver transplantation between 1999–2007 were retrospectively enrolled. ECGs at pre-transplant evaluation were reviewed using the Minnesota classification and compared to healthy controls. Standardized incidence ratios for post-transplant cardiac events were calculated. Results 234 patients with cirrhosis were included, 186 with an available ECG (36% with alcoholic and 24% with viral cirrhosis; mean follow-up 4 years). Cirrhotics had a prolonged QTc interval, a Q wave, abnormal QRS axis deviation, ST segment depression and a pathologic T wave more frequently compared to controls (p < 0.05 for all). Arterial hypertension, older age, cirrhosis severity and etiology were related to ECG abnormalities. Compared to the general Swedish population, patients were 14 times more likely to suffer a cardiac event post-transplant (p < 0.001). A prolonged QTc interval and Q wave were related to post-transplant cardiac events (p < 0.05 for all). Conclusions Pre-transplant ECG abnormalities are common in cirrhosis and are associated with cardiovascular risk factors and cirrhosis severity and etiology. Post-transplant cardiac events are more common than in the general population.

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