Increased risk of QT prolongation associated with atherosclerotic diseases in arseniasis-endemic area in southwestern coast of Taiwan

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Chronic arsenic exposure has been documented to be associated with various cardiovascular diseases. We aimed to investigate 1) the increased risk of QT prolongation in chronic arsenic exposure, and 2) the relationships of cardiac repolarization (QT interval duration) with ischemic heart disease and carotid atherosclerosis. We studied 280 men and 355 women living in the endemic area of arseniasis in southwestern Taiwan. QT intervals in electrocardiogram and carotid intima–media thickness (IMT) by ultrasonography were measured. Ischemic heart disease was diagnosed by history or abnormal electrocardiogram. Significant associations of the corrected QT interval (QTc) duration with ischemic heart disease and carotid intima–medium thickness and plaque were observed after adjustment for various risk factors in the multiple linear regression analysis (all p values <0.05). Three indices of chronic arsenic exposure were all significantly associated with the risk of QTc prolongation showing dose–response relationships (p < 0.001). Chronic arsenic exposure was dose-dependently associated with the risk of QTc prolongation. Ischemic heart disease and carotid atherosclerosis were significantly associated with QTc intervals in chronic arsenic exposure. QTc prolongation might be suggested as an early biomarker for ischemic heart disease or carotid atherosclerosis in population with previous exposure to arsenic.

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