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exercise testing, coronary artery disease, prognosis



  1. Ghayoumi, Afshin MD
  2. Raxwal, Vinod MD
  3. Cho, Shaun MD
  4. Myers, Jonathan PhD
  5. Chun, Sung MD
  6. Froelicher, Victor F. MD


PURPOSE: The authors evaluate the prognostic value of treadmill testing in a large consecutive series of patients with chronic coronary artery disease. Exercise testing is widely performed, but analyses of the prognostic value of test results have largely concentrated on patients referred for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease, patients after an acute coronary event or procedure, or patients with congestive heart failure.


METHODS: All patients referred for evaluation at two university-affiliated Veterans Affairs Medical Centers who underwent exercise treadmill tests for clinical indications between 1987 and 2000 were determined to be dead or alive using the Social Security Death Index after a mean 5.8-year follow-up. Patients without established heart disease and those with congestive heart failure were excluded, leaving the target population of those with a history myocardial infarction or coronary intervention. Clinical and exercise test variables were collected prospectively according to standard definitions; testing and data management were performed in a standardized fashion using a computer-assisted protocol. All-cause mortality was used as the endpoint for follow-up. Standard survival analysis was performed including Kaplan Meier curves and the Cox Hazard Model.


RESULTS: Of the 1473 patients with coronary artery disease who had exercise testing, 273 (19%) patients had a revascularization procedure (Revascularization group); 813 (55%) had a history of myocardial infarction, diagnostic Q waves (MI group), or both; and 387 (26%) had a history of myocardial infarction or Q wave and revascularization (Combined group). Mean age of the patients was 61.8 +/- 9 years. A total of 401 deaths occurred during a mean follow-up of 5.8 years with an annual mortality rate of 4.5%. Only two variables, age and maximal exercise capacity, were independently and statistically associated with time to death in all three groups and were the strongest predictors of all cause mortality.


CONCLUSION: A simple score based on METs, age, and history of myocardial infarction or diagnostic Q waves can stratify prognosis in patients with chronic coronary artery disease. The score enabled the identification of a group at low risk (32% of the cohort) with an annual mortality rate of 2%, a group at intermediate risk (42% of the cohort) with an annual mortality rate of about 4%, and a group at high risk (26% of the cohort) with an average annual mortality rate of approximately 7%.