Objective. This study describes the prevalence and correlates of cardiac arrhythmias in older persons. Background. Cardiac arrhythmias are frequent in selected samples of elderly persons, but their prevalence and association with cardiovascular disease and its risk factors not been examined in a large population-based sample. Methods. In 1,372 participants in the Cardiovascular Health Study, a population-based study of cardiovascular disease risk factors, 24-h ambulatory electrocardiography was performed. Results. Serious arrhythmias, such as sustained ventricular tachycardia and complete atrioventricular block, were uncommom, but brief episodes of ventricular tachycardia (≥3 consecutive ventricular depolarizations) were detected in 4.3% of women and 10.3% of men. Ventricular arrhythmias as a group (excluding ectopic beats < 15/h) were more common in men in women but were not significantly associated with age. The same patterns were true for bradycardia/conduction blocks. Supraventricular arrhythmias as a group (excluding ectopic beats < 15/h), in contrast, did not differ by gender but were strongly associated with increased age. Multivariate analyses showed associations with arrhythmias to differ by gender, with only one association (increased age and supraventricular arrhythmias) present in both women and men. Ventricular arrhythmias, particularly in men, were associated with a higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors and with subclinical disease, as measured by increased left ventricular mass and impaired left ventricular function. Conclusion. Arrhythmias are common in the elderly, and their association with cardiovascular disease differs by gender, Although risk related to arrhythmias can only be determined by prospective study, such studies should have adequate power to examine potential gender differences in associations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine