To the Editor:
We read with interest the recent article by Correll et al. 1about the use of preoperative electrocardiograms. The authors identified five clinical variables that constitute an independent risk factor for the presence of major electrocardiogram alterations. These variables could refine the criterion for preoperative electrocardiograms ordering.
We also believe that in patients with a family history of premature sudden death (< 35 yr of age at death), preoperative electrocardiogram should be considered. In fact, there is a familial cardiomyopathy, known as arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia or cardiomyopathy, which is the major cause of sudden death in the young and athletes. Although arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia or cardiomyopathy is quite a rare heart disease, it seems that it is also one of the main causes of sudden unexpected perioperative death.2In one series, among 50 forensic autopsies performed after perioperative death, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia or cardiomyopathy was detected in 18 patients.3All these patients were young (< 65 yr), with no previous cardiac history and underwent relative low-risk surgery. At least 50% of patients with arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia or cardiomyopathy have an abnormal electrocardiograph at presentation, but within 6 yr of diagnosis, virtually all patients will have one or more of the following findings during sinus rhythm4: complete or incomplete right bundle branch block, QRS prolongation in the absence of right bundle branch block, epsilon wave in leads V1–V2, T-wave inversion in leads V1–V3, and delayed (i.e. , ≥ 55 ms) S-wave upstroke in leads V1–V3.
*Democritus University of Thrace-Greece, Orestiada, Greece. firstname.lastname@example.org