Sex- and age-related reference values in cardiology, with annotations and guidelines for interpretation

Peter L. M. Kerkhof, Richard A. Peace, Peter W. Macfarlane

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The definition of “abnormal” in clinical sciences is often based on so-called reference values which point to a range that experts by some sort of consensus consider as normal when looking at biological variables. Such a level is commonly calculated by taking (twice) the standard deviation from the mean, or considering certain percentiles. The suspicion or even confirmation of a disease is then established by demonstrating that the value measured exceeds the upper or lower reference value. As is often the case, the measurement accuracy may depend on the conditions and specific method employed to collect and analyze data. This implies that, for example, data assessed by 2D echocardiography possibly differ from those obtained by MRI and therefore require modality-specific reference values. In this review we summarize reference values for the electrocardiogram, cardiac compartmental volumes, and arterial vessel size in males and females for various age groups. These values may further depend on other variables such as body size, physical training status, and ethnicity. Additional variables relevant for cardiology such as those referring to the microcirculation and biomarkers are only mentioned with reference to the pertinent literature. In general, the sex- and age-specific differences observed are often remarkable and warrant consideration in clinical practice and basic biomedical sciences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
PublisherSpringer New York LLC
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology

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