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OBJECTIVE—To investigate the differences in four formulae for heart rate correction of the QT interval in serial ECG recordings in healthy children undergoing a graded exercise test.
SUBJECTS—54 healthy children, median age 9.9 years (range 5.05-14.9 years), subjected to graded physical exercise (on a bicycle ergometer or treadmill) until heart rate reached > 85% of expected maximum for age.
DESIGN—ECG was recorded at baseline, at maximum exercise, and at one, two, four, and six minutes after exercise. For each stage, a 12 lead digital ECG was obtained and printed. In each ECG, QT and RR interval were measured (lead II), heart rate was calculated, and QTc values were obtained using the Bazett, Hodges, Fridericia, and Framingham formulae. A paired t test was used for comparison of QTc, QT, and RR interval at rest and peak exercise, and analysis of variance for all parameters for different stages for each formula.
RESULTS—From peak exercise to two minutes recovery there was a delay in QT lengthening compared with RR lengthening, accounting for differences observed with the formulae after peak exercise. At peak exercise, the Bazett and Hodges formulae led to prolongation of QTc intervals (p < 0.001), while the Fridericia and Framingham formulae led to shortening of QTc intervals (p < 0.001) until four minutes of recovery. The Bazett QTc shortened significantly at one minute after peak exercise.
CONCLUSIONS—The practical meaning of QT interval measurements depends on the correction formula used. In studies investigating repolarisation changes (for example, in the long QT syndromes, congenital heart defects, or in the evaluation of new drugs), the use of an ad hoc selected heart rate correction formula may bias the results in either direction. The Fridericia and Framingham QTc values at one minute recovery from exercise may be useful in the assessment of long QT syndromes.
Keywords: paediatric exercise testing; QT interval; QTc formulae