Electrocardiographic detection of hypertensive left atrial enlargement in the presence of obesity: re-calibration against cardiac magnetic resonance

Jonathan C L Rodrigues, Tamas Erdei, Amardeep Ghosh Dastidar, Bethanie McIntyre, Amy E Burchell, Laura E K Ratcliffe, Emma C J Hart, Mark C K Hamilton, Julian F R Paton, Angus K Nightingale, Nathan E. Manghat

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Left atrial enlargement (LAE) has adverse prognostic implications in hypertension. We sought to determine the accuracy of 5 ECG criteria for LAE in hypertension relative to cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) gold-standard, and investigate the effect of concomitant obesity. 130 consecutive patients (age: 51.4 ± 15.1 years, 47% male, 51% obese, systolic blood pressure: 171 ± 29mmHg, diastolic blood pressure: 97 ± 15mmHg) referred for CMR (1.5T) from a tertiary hypertension clinic were included. Patients with concomitant cardiac pathology were excluded. ECGs were assessed blindly for: 1) P wave >110ms, 2) P mitrale, 3) P wave axis <30°, 4) Area of negative P terminal force in V1 >40ms·mm and 5) Positive P terminal force in aVL >0.5mm. LA volume ≥55ml/m2, measured blindly by CMR, was defined as LAE. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, accuracy and area under the receiver operator curve were calculated. The prevalence of LAE by CMR was 26%. All the individual ECG LAE criteria were more specific than sensitive, with specificities ranging from 70% (P axis <30º) to 99% (P mitrale). Obesity attenuated the specificity of most of the individual ECG LAE criteria. Obesity correlated with significant lower specificity (48% vs 65%, P < 0.05) and a trend towards lower sensitivity (59% vs 43%, P = 0.119) when ≥1 ECG LAE criteria were present. Individual ECG criteria of LAE in hypertension are specific, but not sensitive, at identifying LAE. The ECG should not be used to excluded LAE in hypertension, particularly in obese subjects
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212–219
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Human Hypertension
Issue number3
Early online date8 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

Structured keywords

  • CRICBristol
  • Bristol Heart Institute


  • Obesity, ECG
  • Electrocardiograph
  • Left atrial enlargement
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance


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