'Benign' ECG may be signal of AF

A common ECG recording that has largely been considered to be of little significance could actually signal an increased risk of atrial fibrillation (AF), say US researchers.

A lengthening of the PR interval is commonly seen on routine ECGs and represents a delay in the time it takes for the electrical signal to move across the atria to the ventricles.

This latest study found that patients who showed a prolonged PR interval longer than 200ms were twice as likely to develop AF.

Lead researcher Dr Susan Cheng, from the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said: 'The results indicate that PR interval prolongation is not as benign as had been previously thought.'

The researchers propose that a prolonged PR interval could be a marker for progressive problems with the heart's electrical conduction system.

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