Electrocardiograms, used to measure the heart's electrical activity, could be used more widely to predict patients' risk of death from all causes, according to a study authored by cardiologists from Johns Hopkins Medicine (PDF)
Using a sophisticated computer algorithm that analyzes ECG results, researchers initially set out to determine the risk of ventricular tachycardia and death among 850 patients with heart failure. But during the course of the study, the authors identified a "significant correlation between ECG results and patients who died within five years of the test," Johns Hopkins
said in an e-mailed news release.
Dr. Deeptankar DeMazumder, a cardiology fellow and an author of the study, said the algorithm—known as Entropy X—can pick up hard-to-detect heart-rate patterns that may show how the body's organs are interacting with one another.
"From our research, we conclude that a specialized analysis of heart-rate patterns using this algorithm holds the potential to tell us about a patient's overall health, not just his heart, and even ascertain which patients may be at highest risk of death from all causes," DeMazumder said in the release.
DeMazumder will present findings from the study Monday in Los Angeles at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association.