Relation of QT Interval Measurements to Evolving Automated Algorithms from Different Manufacturers of Electrocardiographs
QT-interval measurements have clinical importance for the electrocardiographic recognition of congenital and acquired heart disease and as markers of arrhythmogenic risk during drug therapy, but software algorithms for the automated measurement of electrocardiographic durations differ among manufacturers and evolve within manufacturers. To compare automated QT-interval measurements, simultaneous paired electrocardiograms were obtained in 218 subjects using digital recorders from the 2 major manufacturers of electrocardiographs used in the United States and analyzed by 2 currently used versions of each manufacturer's software. The 4 automated QT and QTc durations were examined by repeated-measures analysis of variance with post hoc testing. Significantly larger automated QT-interval measurements were found with the most recent software of each manufacturer (12- to 24-ms mean differences from earlier algorithms). Systematic differences in QT measurements between manufacturers were significant for the earlier algorithms (11-ms mean difference) but not for the most recent software (1.3-ms mean difference). Similar relations were found for the rate-corrected QTc, with large mean differences between earlier and later algorithms (15 to 26 ms). Although there was a <2-ms mean difference between the most recent automated QTc measurements of the 2 manufacturers, the SD of the difference was 12 ms. In conclusion, reference values for automated electrocardiographic intervals and serial QT measurements vary among electrocardiographs and analysis software. Technically based differences in automated QT and QTc measurements must be considered when these intervals are used as markers of heart disease, prognosis, or arrhythmogenic risk.