Abnormal exercise EKG in the setting of normal stress echo linked with increased CV risk


Background: Exercise EKG is often integrated with stress echocardiography, but discordance with +EKG/–Echo has unknown significance.

Study design: Observational cohort study.

Setting: Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.

Synopsis: 47,944 patients without known coronary artery disease underwent exercise stress echocardiogram (Echo) with stress EKG. Of those patients, 8.5% had +EKG/–Echo results, which was associated with annualized event rate of adverse cardiac events of 1.72%, which is higher than the 0.89% of patients with –EKG/–Echo results. This was most significant for composite major adverse cardiovascular events less than 30 days out, with an adjusted hazard ratio of 8.06 (95% confidence interval, 5.02-12.94). For major adverse cardiovascular events greater than 30 days out, HR was 1.25 (95% CI 1.02-1.53).

Bottom line: Patients with +EKG/–Echo findings appear to be at higher risk of adverse cardiac events, especially in the short term.

Citation: Daubert MA et al. Implications of abnormal exercise electrocardiography with normal stress echocardiography. JAMA Intern Med. 2020 Jan 27. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.6958.

Dr. Ho is a hospitalist and associate professor of medicine at University of Texas Health, San Antonio.

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