Dynamic predictive accuracy of electrocardiographic biomarkers of sudden cardiac death within a survival framework: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study

Erick A. Perez-Alday, Aron Bender, David German, Srini V. Mukundan, Christopher Hamilton, Jason A. Thomas, Yin Li-Pershing, Larisa Tereshchenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: The risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) is known to be dynamic. However, the accuracy of a dynamic SCD prediction is unknown. We aimed to measure the dynamic predictive accuracy of ECG biomarkers of SCD and competing non-sudden cardiac death (non-SCD). Methods: Atherosclerosis Risk In Community study participants with analyzable ECGs in sinus rhythm were included (n = 15,716; 55% female, 73% white, age 54.2 ± 5.8 y). ECGs of 5 follow-up visits were analyzed. Global electrical heterogeneity and traditional ECG metrics (heart rate, QRS, QTc) were measured. Adjudicated SCD was the primary outcome; non-SCD was the competing outcome. Time-dependent area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC(t) AUC) analysis was performed to assess the prediction accuracy of a continuous biomarker in a period of 3,6,9 months, and 1,2,3,5,10, and 15 years using a survival analysis framework. Reclassification improvement as compared to clinical risk factors (age, sex, race, diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke) was measured. Results: Over a median 24.4 y follow-up, there were 577 SCDs (incidence 1.76 (95%CI 1.63-1.91)/1000 person-years), and 829 non-SCDs [2.55 (95%CI 2.37-2.71)]. No ECG biomarkers predicted SCD within 3 months after ECG recording. Within 6 months, spatial ventricular gradient (SVG) elevation predicted SCD (AUC 0.706; 95%CI 0.526-0.886), but not a non-SCD (AUC 0.527; 95%CI 0.303-0.75). SVG elevation more accurately predicted SCD if the ECG was recorded 6 months before SCD (AUC 0.706; 95%CI 0.526-0.886) than 2 years before SCD (AUC 0.608; 95%CI 0.515-0.701). Within the first 3 months after ECG recording, only SVG azimuth improved reclassification of the risk beyond clinical risk factors: 18% of SCD events were reclassified from low or intermediate risk to a high-risk category. QRS-T angle was the strongest long-term predictor of SCD (AUC 0.710; 95%CI 0.668-0.753 for ECG recorded within 10 years before SCD). Conclusion: Short-term and long-term predictive accuracy of ECG biomarkers of SCD differed, reflecting differences in transient vs. persistent SCD substrates. The dynamic predictive accuracy of ECG biomarkers should be considered for competing SCD risk scores. The distinction between markers predicting short-term and long-term events may represent the difference between markers heralding SCD (triggers or transient substrates) versus markers identifying persistent substrate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number255
JournalBMC Cardiovascular Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 14 2019


  • Dynamic prediction
  • Electrocardiography
  • Global electrical heterogeneity
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Vectorcardiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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