• vector loop;
  • repolarization dynamics;
  • exercise ECG;
  • beat to beat

Background: QRS/T angle and the cosine of the angle between QRS and T-wave vectors (TCRT), measured from standard 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG), have been used in risk stratification of patients. This study assessed the possible rate dependence of these variables during exercise ECG in healthy subjects.

Methods: Forty healthy volunteers, 20 men and 20 women, aged 34.6 ± 3.4, underwent an exercise ECG testing. Twelve-lead ECG was recorded from each test subject and the spatial QRS/T angle and TCRT were automatically analyzed in a beat-to-beat manner with custom-made software. The individual TCRT/RR and QRST/RR patterns were fitted with seven different regression models, including a linear model and six nonlinear models.

Results: TCRT and QRS/T angle showed a significant rate dependence, with decreased values at higher heart rates (HR). In individual subjects, the second-degree polynomic model was the best regression model for TCRT/RR and QRST/RR slopes. It provided the best fit for both exercise and recovery. The overall TCRT/RR and QRST/RR slopes were similar between men and women during exercise and recovery. However, women had predominantly higher TCRT and QRS/T values. With respect to time, the dynamics of TCRT differed significantly between men and women; with a steeper exercise slope in women (women, −0.04/min vs −0.02/min in men, P < 0.0001). In addition, evident hysteresis was observed in the TCRT/RR slopes; with higher TCRT values during exercise.

Conclusions: The individual patterns of TCRT and QRS/T angle are affected by HR and gender. Delayed rate adaptation creates hysteresis in the TCRT/RR slopes.

Ann Noninvasive Electrocardiol 2010;15(3):264–275