Relation between the electrocardiographic stress test and degree and location of myocardial ischemia


      Factors that influence frequency and location of stress-induced electrocardiographic (ECG) ST depression and the development of chest pain are incompletely understood. We studied 331 patients with ischemic myocardial nuclear defects in response to routine clinical treadmill testing with simultaneous ECG recording. Nuclear defects were analyzed for location and extent of myocardium involved. Exercise-induced ischemic ST changes were demonstrated in 59% of patients (196 of 331). Subjects with stress-induced ECG changes and/or chest pain had more extensive nuclear perfusion defects. Diabetic patients were significantly less likely to experience chest pain (24%) versus nondiabetics (41%) during testing (p = 0.04). Larger perfusion defects were associated with greater magnitude, lead distribution, and incidence of ECG changes. The number of ECG lead zones (anterior, lateral, and inferior) responding positively were related to both magnitude of ST depression and severity of ischemia, but not to location of ischemic defects. Regardless of location of ischemia, ST depression occurred with similar frequency. Thus, exercise-induced ECG ST depression remains a valuable indicator of the severity of myocardial ischemia. Greater ST depression involving multiple leads usually signified extensive myocardial ischemia, but provided no information regarding its location. Anginal-type chest pain induced by exercise testing also denoted more extensive ischemia.
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