Racial differences in electrocardiographic characteristics and prognostic significance in Whites versus Asians

Rajalakshmi Santhanakrishnan, Na Wang, Martin G. Larson, Jared M. Magnani, Ramachandran S. Vasan, Thomas J. Wang, Jonathan Yap, Liang Feng, Keng B. Yap, Hean Y. Ong, Tze P. Ng, Arthur Mark Richards, Carolyn S.P. Lam, Jennifer E. Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Racial differences in electrocardiographic (ECG) characteristics and prognostic significance among Whites and Asians are not well described. Methods and Results: We studied 2677 White Framingham Heart Study participants (57% women) and 2972 Asian (64% women) Singapore Longitudinal Aging Study participants (mean age 66 years in both) free of myocardial infarction or heart failure. Racial differences in ECG characteristics and effect on mortality were assessed. In linear regression models, PR interval was longer in Asians compared with Whites (multivariable-adjusted β±SE 5.0±1.4 ms in men and 6.6±0.9 ms in women, both P<0.0006). QT interval was shorter in Asian men (β±SE -6.2±1.2 ms, P<0.0001) and longer in Asian women (β±SE 3.6±0.9 ms, P=0.02) compared to White men and women, respectively. Asians had greater odds of having ECG left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) compared with Whites (odds ratio [OR] 3.56, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.36-9.35 for men, OR 1.93, 95% CI 1.35-2.76 for women, both P<0.02). Over a mean follow-up of 11±3 years in Framingham and 8±3 years in Singapore, mortality rates were 24.5 and 13.4 per 1000 person-years among Whites and Asians, respectively. In Cox models, the presence of LVH had a greater effect on all-cause mortality in Asians compared with Whites (hazard ratio [HR] 2.66, 95% CI 1.83-3.88 vs HR 1.30, 95% CI 0.90-1.89, P for interaction=0.02). Conclusion: Our findings from two large community-based cohorts show prominent race differences in ECG characteristics between Whites and Asians, and also suggest a differential association with mortality. These differences may carry implications for race-specific ECG reference ranges and cardiovascular risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere002956
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Electrocardiography
  • Epidemiology
  • Left ventricular hypertrophy
  • Mortality
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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