Anterior T-Wave Inversion in Young White Athletes and Nonathletes: Prevalence and Significance

Aneil Malhotra, Harshil Dhutia, Sabiha Gati, Tee-Joo Yeo, Helder Dores, Rachel Bastiaenen, Rajay Narain, Ahmed Merghani, Gherardo Finocchiaro, Nabeel Sheikh, Alexandros Steriotis, Abbas Zaidi, Lynne Millar, Elijah Behr, Maite Tome, Michael Papadakis, Sanjay Sharma

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52 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Anterior T-wave inversion (ATWI) on electrocardiography (ECG) in young white adults raises the possibility of cardiomyopathy, specifically arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). Whereas the 2010 European consensus recommendations for ECG interpretation in young athletes state that ATWI beyond lead V1 warrants further investigation, the prevalence and significance of ATWI have never been reported in a large population of asymptomatic whites.

OBJECTIVES: This study investigated the prevalence and significance of ATWI in a large cohort of young, white adults including athletes.

METHODS: Individuals 16 to 35 years of age (n = 14,646), including 4,720 females (32%) and 2,958 athletes (20%), were evaluated by using a health questionnaire, physical examination, and 12-lead ECG. ATWI was defined as T-wave inversion in ≥2 contiguous anterior leads (V1 to V4).

RESULTS: ATWI was detected in 338 individuals (2.3%) and was more common in women than in men (4.3% vs. 1.4%, respectively; p < 0.0001) and more common among athletes than in nonathletes (3.5% vs. 2.0%, respectively; p < 0.0001). T-wave inversion was predominantly confined to leads V1 to V2 (77%). Only 1.2% of women and 0.2% of men exhibited ATWI beyond V2. No one with ATWI fulfilled diagnostic criteria for ARVC after further evaluation. During a mean follow-up of 23.1 ± 12.2 months none of the individuals with ATWI experienced an adverse event.

CONCLUSIONS: ATWI confined to leads V1 to V2 is a normal variant or physiological phenomenon in asymptomatic white individuals without a relevant family history. ATWI beyond V2 is rare, particularly in men, and may warrant investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2017


  • Journal Article


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