Technically related noise in 12-lead ECGs recorded with ambulatory recorders has never been systematically compared with that in ECGs recorded with conventional ECGs. This study compared serial 10-second ECGs obtained in ten healthy men, age 22-45 years, who were recorded in the supine resting position using a (1) MAC VU recorder, (2) digital ambulatory SEER MC recorder with a Multi-Link detachable ECG cable, and (3) digital ambulatory SEER MC recorder with a light ambulatory ECG cable. In each ECG, averaged sinus rhythm cycles of the entire recording were realigned with the native signal and subtracted. The resulting "residuum" was quantified by computing its standard deviation and root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD). While the RMSSD residuum values were significantly lower with the MAC VU recorder (6.27 +/- 0.98 microV) than with the SEER MC recorder with either ECG cables (7.29 +/- 1.31 and 7.17 +/- 1.31 microV, P < 0.003 and p < 0.02), the difference was practically negligible and there was no detectable difference in the standard deviation residuum values. The study concludes that valid ECG investigations of serial ECG testing may be conducted using the ambulatory SEER MC recorders providing the biological sources of ECG noise are controlled. The available technology for noise assessment suggests that studies involving advanced analysis of serial ECGs (e.g., of drug related changes), should incorporate objective characterisation of ECG quality.
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