Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Cardiac Repolarization: Data from a Randomized Controlled Trial

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Abstract

Background:

Altered cardiac repolarization is a risk factor for sudden cardiac death and seems to be increased in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients.

Objective:

Lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) has been shown to improve breathing mechanics and lung function in patients with severe COPD and emphysema and possibly also improve altered cardiac repolarization.

Methods:

Thirty patients scheduled for LVRS were randomized to LVRS or to the control group. We investigated the treatment effect 3 months after LVRS on measures of cardiac repolarization and dispersion of repolarization (QTc interval, QT dispersion) derived from electrocardiography. Univariable and multivariable analyses were used to identify possible confounders influencing the treatment effect.

Results:

LVRS was associated with an improvement in lung function (mean ± SD residual volume/total lung capacity of -9 ± 11% and forced expiratory volume in 1 s of +30 ± 29%). LVRS did not significantly reduce QTc (median -5.3 ms, 95% confidence interval, CI -15.5 to 3.7, p = 0.214) and QT dispersion (median -3.0 ms, 95% CI -13.0 to 7.0, p = 0.536) compared to the control group. No significant association between change in QTc and change in QT dispersion, respectively, and change in possible confounders was found.

Conclusion:

LVRS seems to have no effect on cardiac repolarization in patients with COPD. Thus, lung hyperinflation seems not to be a causal mechanism for altered cardiac repolarization in COPD patients.

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