Correlation Relationship Assessment between Left Ventricular Hypertrophy Voltage Criteria and Body Mass Index in 41,806 Swiss Conscripts


  • No conflict of interest.

Address for reprints: Paul Erne, M.D., Division of Cardiology, Luzerner Kantonsspital, 6000 Luzern 16, Switzerland. Fax: +41-41-205-5109; E-mail:


Introduction: Electrocardiographic criteria for left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) have been limited by low sensitivity at acceptable levels of specificity. A number of studies have demonstrated that body mass index (BMI) is associated with decreased sensitivity of ECG LVH classification in hypertensive patients. The objective of this study is to investigate the correlation relationship between LVH voltage criteria and BMI in Swiss conscripts.

Methods: A database of 41,806 young Swiss people, who underwent compulsory conscription for the Swiss Army, was compiled. Along with other medical data, an ECG was taken. Statistical analyses, such as linear regression and calculation of correlation coefficient, were carried out between LVH voltage criteria and BMI.

Results: The mean age in the studied population was 19.2 ± 1.1 years with a median age of 19 years (range from 17 to 38 years). We found an overweight prevalence of 25.1%. The results showed that body habitus had significant association with Sokolow-Lyon voltages. A mean decrease of 13%, 5%, 19%, 14%, and 12% for the five studied Sokolow-Lyon indexes were found between normal range subjects (18.5 ≤ BMI < 25) and obese subjects (25≤ BMI).

Conclusions: Our study confirms the hypothesis that people with higher BMI, a growing section of the population, have lower ECG amplitudes. Therefore, the Sokolow-Lyon voltage criteria may underestimate the presence of LVH for subjects with higher BMI, which is not the case for the Cornell voltage. Our analysis suggests that computerized electrocardiography for the diagnosis of left ventricular hypertrophy based on Sokolow-Lyon voltages should incorporate the BMI factor.