ECGs May Miss Heart Disease in Postmenopausal Women

Many normal electrocardiograms are from women with or at high risk of CHD

MONDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Postmenopausal women may not be able to rule out coronary heart disease (CHD) based on a normal electrocardiogram (ECG), according to research published in the Dec. 1 issue of The American Journal of Cardiology.

Nanette K. Wenger, M.D., of the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and colleagues looked at the ECGs of 10,101 women, aged 55 and older, who participated in the Raloxifene Use for the Heart (RUTH) trial.

The researchers found that 59 percent of ECGs were normal, 69 percent of which were from women at increased risk for CHD and 50 percent of which were from women with documented CHD. Forty-three percent of women with a previous myocardial infarction (MI) had normal ECG results. However, 11 percent of the women at risk for CHD who did not report an MI in their health history were found to have evidence of a silent Q-wave MI. The percent of abnormal ECGs rose with increasing age.

"There were high percentages of normal electrocardiograms in the increased-risk and documented CHD groups of RUTH participants, with substantial discrepancy between MI history and ECG MI documentation," the authors write.

Eli Lilly funded the RUTH study.

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