Objectives: Hypertension is the leading cause of heart failure (HF) in sub-Saharan Africa. Electrocardiography (ECG) is a cheap and easily available stratification tool for the diagnosis and prognostication of individuals with hypertension. The aim of this study was to develop an ECG-based HF diagnostic score among patients with hypertension attending a specialist cardiology clinic.

Methods:One hundred and one (101) case-control age- and sex-matched pairs were recruited. The study population were adults with a clinical diagnosis of hypertensive HF (cases) and hypertension without HF (controls). Participants underwent clinical assessment and ECG. Associations between ECG variables and HF risk were tested with chi square test. Logistic regression modelling (age- and sex adjusted) was trained on a random subset of participants and tested on the remaining participants to determine the ECG abnormalities that are diagnostic of HF and develop a HF diagnostic score. The HF diagnostic score was then validated in an independent dataset of the ECG-Hypertension Audit. Goodness of fit and c-statistics of the HF summed diagnostic score in the training, testing and validation datasets are presented. A two-sided p value of

Results: The independent ECG diagnostic markers of HF among hypertensive patients in this study in decreasing order of effect size were sinus tachycardia (aOR: 7.72, 95% CI: 2.31-25.85). arrhythmia (aOR: 7.14, 95% CI: 2.57-19.86), left ventricular hypertrophy (aOR: 4.47; 1.85-10.77) and conduction abnormality (aOR: 3.41, 95% CI: 1.21-9.65). The HF summed diagnostic score showed excellent calibration and discrimination in the training (Hosmer Lemeshow p=0.90; c-statistic 0.82; 95% CI 0.76–0.89) and test samples (Hosmer Lemeshow p=0.31; c-statistic 0.73 95% CI 0.60 to 0.87) of the derivation cohort and an independent validation audit cohort (Hosmer Lemeshow p=0.17; c-statistic 0.79 95% CI 0.74 to 0.84) respectively. The model showed high diagnostic accuracy in individuals with different intermediate pre-test probabilities of HF.

Conclusions: A ECG based HF score consisting of sinus tachycardia, arrhythmia, conduction abnormality and left ventricular hypertrophy is diagnostic of HF especially in those with intermediate pre-test probability of HF. This has clinical importance in the stratification of individuals with systemic hypertension.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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