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Ann Noninvasive Electrocardiol. 2003 Oct;8(4):333-40.

Differences between ventricular repolarization in men and women: description, mechanism and implications.

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  • 1Indiana Heart Institute and The Care Group, St Vincent Hospital, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. tscott@thecaregroup.com


The purpose of this review article is to discuss the differences between ventricular repolarization in males and females in terms of morphology, possible mechanism, and practical significance. The interest in the subject increased when it became known that in comparison to men, women have a higher incidence of torsade de pointes (tdp) and a greater lengthening of QT-interval after administration of class III antiarrhythmic drugs. Before puberty, the QT intervals and the patterns of ventricular repolarization in boys and girls are similar. At puberty, in boys the QT interval shortens, and a typical male pattern of ventricular repolarization develops. This pattern is characterized by a higher amplitude of the J-point, a shorter and steeper ST segment course, a steeper ascent, and a higher amplitude of the T wave. This pattern is prevalent in >90% of young males. With increasing age the prevalence of the male pattern in males declines gradually and drops to 14% in the oldest age group. The rise and fall of the prevalence of the male pattern appears to parallel the rise and decline of testosterone in males. The female pattern of ventricular repolarization is prevalent in about 80% of females in all age groups. The hormonal effects on ventricular repolarization have been studied in normal and castrated rabbits of both sexes. The available evidence indicates that the females have greater divergence of L calcium current among different layers of the myocardium and a lower density of the repolarizing Kr and Ks currents. The clinical significance of the repolarization differences among genders remains to be determined. Of particular interest is the question whether the males with female pattern are at the same risk of tdp as the females or whether the females with male pattern are at lower risk of tdp than the females with female pattern.

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