Validity of the surface electrocardiogram criteria for right ventricular hypertrophy: The mesa-rv study (multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis-right ventricle)

Isaac R. Whitman, Vickas V. Patel, Elsayed Z. Soliman, David A. Bluemke, Amy Praestgaard, Aditya Jain, David Herrington, Joao A.C. Lima, Steven M. Kawut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives The study aimed to assess the diagnostic properties of electrocardiographic (ECG) criteria for right ventricular hypertrophy (RVH) measured by cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (cMRI) in adults without clinical cardiovascular disease. Background Current ECG criteria for RVH were based on cadaveric dissection in small studies. Methods MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) performed cMRIs with complete right ventricle (RV) interpretation on 4,062 participants without clinical cardiovascular disease. Endocardial margins of the RV were manually contoured on diastolic and systolic images. The ECG screening criteria for RVH from the 2009 American Heart Association Recommendations for Standardization and Interpretation of the ECG were examined in participants with and without left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy or reduced ejection fraction. RVH was defined using sex-specific normative equations based on age, height, and weight. Results The study sample with normal LV morphology and function (n = 3,719) was age 61.3 ± 10.0 years, 53.5% female, 39.6% Caucasian, 25.5% African American, 21.9% Hispanic, and 13.0% Asian. The mean body mass index was 27.9 ± 5.0 kg/m2. A total of 6% had RVH, which was generally mild. Traditional ECG criteria were specific (many >95%) but had low sensitivity for RVH by cMRI. The positive predictive values were not sufficiently high as to be clinically useful (maximum 12%). The results did not differ based on age, sex, race, or smoking status, or with the inclusion of participants with abnormal LV mass or function. Classification and regression tree analysis revealed that no combination of ECG variables was better than the criteria used singly. Conclusions The recommended ECG screening criteria for RVH are not sufficiently sensitive or specific for screening for mild RVH in adults without clinical cardiovascular disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)672-681
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 25 2014



  • electrocardiogram
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • right ventricular hypertrophy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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