Anorexia Nervosa

QT Interval Dispersion and Resting Metabolic Rate in Chronic Anorexia Nervosa

International Journal of Eating Disorders
By Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS


Objective: During the starvation phase of anorexia nervosa (AN), cardiac and skeletal muscle mass decreases, whereas electrocardiographic QT dispersion, a marker of arrhythmia risk, increases. QT dispersion during the chronic phase of AN and its relationship to resting metabolic rate (RMR) have not been described previously and is the subject of the current investigation.

Method: Six AN patients were compared with 10 age-matched control subjects. Serum electrolyte levels, electrocardiography, anthropomorphic data, and indirect calorimetry were obtained for all participants.

Results: Corrected QT interval (QTc) did not differ between groups, but QT dispersion was significantly greater in AN patients. QT dispersion correlated negatively with resting oxygen consumption and RMR. The relationship between QT dispersion and RMR did not persist after correcting for lean body mass.

Conclusions: AN patients with a low RMR may be at risk for increased QT dispersion. QT dispersion is a widely available and inexpensive measure, which may reflect both metabolic status and arrhythmia potential.

Written by

Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS

Dr. Philip S. Mehler began his career at Denver Health more than 35 years ago and was formerly its Chief of Internal Medicine and then Denver Health’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) until he was promoted…

ACUTE Earns Prestigious Center of Excellence Designation from Anthem
In 2018, the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health was honored by Anthem Health as a Center of Excellence for Medical Treatment of Severe and Extreme Eating Disorders. ACUTE is the first medical unit ever to achieve this designation in the field of eating disorders. It comes after a rigorous review process.

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