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Journal of Healthcare Engineering
Volume 4, Issue 2, Pages 167-184
Research Article

The Power of Exercise-Induced T-wave Alternans to Predict Ventricular Arrhythmias in Patients with Implanted Cardiac Defibrillator

Laura Burattini,1 Sumche Man,2 and Cees A. Sweene2

1Department of Information Engineering, Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy
2Department of Cardiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands

Received 1 September 2012; Accepted 1 February 2013

Copyright © 2013 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The power of exercise-induced T-wave alternans (TWA) to predict the occurrence of ventricular arrhythmias was evaluated in 67 patients with an implanted cardiac defibrillator (ICD). During the 4-year follow-up, electrocardiographic (ECG) tracings were recorded in a bicycle ergometer test with increasing workload ranging from zero (NoWL) to the patient's maximal capacity (MaxWL). After the follow-up, patients were classified as either ICD_Cases (n = 29), if developed ventricular tachycardia/fibrillation, or ICD_Controls (n = 38). TWA was quantified using our heart-rate adaptive match filter. Compared to NoWL, MaxWL was characterized by faster heart rates and higher TWA in both ICD_Cases (12-18 μ V vs. 20-39 μ V; P < 0.05) and ICD_Controls (9-15 μ V vs. 20-32 μ V; P < 0.05). Still, TWA was able to discriminate the two ICD groups during NoWL (sensitivity = 59-83%, specificity = 53-84%) but not MaxWL (sensitivity = 55-69%, specificity = 39-74%). Thus, this retrospective observational case-control study suggests that TWA's predictive power for the occurrence of ventricular arrhythmias could increase at low heart rates.