The Prognosis of an Abnormal Electrocardiographic Stress Test
Treadmill walking for 10 min at 3 mph against a 5% grade has been used as an electrocardiographic (ECG) stress test as part of a prospective epidemiologic study of 2,437 men. From 1953 through 1966, 22,223 tests have been done without untoward event.
The criteria of an abnormal postexercise ECG were ischemic flattening or coving of the S-T segment, T-wave changes consistent with focal left ventricular epicardial ischemia, and paroxysmal left bundle-branch block.
Of the 2,003 men exercised two or more times, 264 developed some manifestation of ischemic heart disease (IHD) and in 75 (30%) this was an abnormal ECG response to exercise. They had higher blood pressures and were more often heavy smokers than normal responders. Body weight and serum cholesterol were similar in the two groups. Over the next 5 years there was an 85% probability that these abnormal responders would develop angina pectoris or experience a myocardial infarction.
These relatively insensitive but highly specific and reproducible ECG criteria accurately identify men with clinically silent but far-advanced coronary atherosclerosis, attested by the poor prognosis of an abnormal response. An abnormal postexercise ECG is valid evidence of IHD. A submaximal ECG stress test is useful in clinical and epidemiologic studies and might be useful in assessing the effectiveness of efforts to reduce the risk of IHD.
- Received May 19, 1969.
- Accepted November 11, 1969.
- © 1970 American Heart Association, Inc.