The 12-lead ECG in peripartum cardiomyopathy

Kemi Tibazarwa, Geraldine Lee, Bongani Mayosi, Melinda Carrington, Simon Stewart, Karen Sliwa

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45 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The value of the 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) to provide prognostic information in the deadly and disabling syndrome peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) is unknown. Aims: To determine the prevalence of major and minor ECG abnormalities in PPCM patients at the time of diagnosis, and to establish whether there are ECG correlates of persistent left ventricular dysfunction and/or clinical stability at six months of follow up, where available. Methods: Twelve-lead ECGs were performed at the point of diagnosis on 78 consecutive women presenting with PPCM to two tertiary centres in South Africa and 44 cases (56%) at the six-month follow up. Blinded Minnesota coding identified major ECG abnormalities and minor ECG changes. Results: The cohort mainly comprised young women of black African ancestry (90%) [mean age 29 ± 7 years and median body mass index 24.3 (IQR: 22.7-27.5) kg/m2]. The majority of cases (n = 70; 90%) presented in sinus rhythm (mean heart rate 100 ± 21 beats/min). At baseline, at least one ECG abnormality/variant was detected in 96% of cases. Major ECG abnormalities and minor changes were detected in 49% (95% CI: 37-60%) and 62% (95% CI: 51-74%) of cases, respectively; the most common being T-wave changes (59%), p-wave abnormality (29%) and QRS-axis deviation (25%). Of the 44 cases (56%) reviewed at six months, normalisation of the 12-lead ECG occurred in 25%; the most labile ECG features being heart rate (mean reduction of 27 beats/ min; p < 0.001) and abnormal QRS axis (36 vs 14%; p = 0.014). On an adjusted basis, major T-wave abnormalities on the baseline 12-lead ECG were associated with lower left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) at baseline (average of -9%, 95% CI: -1 to -16; p = 0.03) and at six months (-12%; 95% CI: -4 to -24; p = 0.006). Similarly, baseline ST-segment elevation was also associated with lower LVEF at six months (-25%; 95% CI: -0.7 to -50; p = 0.04). Conclusions: In this unique study, we found that almost all women suffering from PPCM had an 'abnormal' 12-lead ECG. Pending more definitive studies, the ECG appears to be a useful adjunctive tool in both screening and prognostication in resource-poor settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-329
Number of pages8
JournalCardiovascular Journal of Africa
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Baseline
  • Comparative study
  • ECG
  • Follow up
  • Peripartum cardiomyopathy
  • South Africa


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