Abdelghani, Samy A.; Rosenthal, Todd M.; Morin, Daniel P.
Background: Heart disease is a major cause of death in industrialized nations, with approximately 50% of these deaths attributable to sudden cardiac arrest. If patients at high risk for sudden cardiac arrest can be identified, their odds of surviving fatal arrhythmias can be significantly improved through prophylactic implantable cardioverter defibrillator placement. This review summarizes the current knowledge pertaining to surface electrocardiogram (ECG) predictors of sudden cardiac arrest.; Methods: We conducted a literature review focused on methods of predicting sudden cardiac arrest through noninvasive electrocardiographic testing.; Results: Several electrocardiographic-based methods of risk stratification of sudden cardiac arrest have been studied, including QT prolongation, QRS duration, fragmented QRS complexes, early repolarization, Holter monitoring, heart rate variability, heart rate turbulence, signal-averaged ECG, T wave alternans, and T-peak to T-end. These ECG findings have shown variable effectiveness as screening tools.; Conclusion: At this time, no individual ECG finding has been found to be able to adequately stratify patients with regard to risk for sudden cardiac arrest. However, one or more of these candidate surface ECG parameters may become useful components of future multifactorial risk stratification calculators.