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Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacology

Paris, France
 

Exercise-induced ST depression in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease

Author(s): Gianrossi R, Detrano R, Mulvihill D, Lehmann K, Dubach P, et al.

Abstract

To evaluate the variability in the reported diagnostic accuracy of the exercise electrocardiogram, we applied meta-analysis to 147 consecutively published reports comparing exercise-induced ST depression with coronary angiography. These reports involved 24,074 patients who underwent both tests. Population characteristics and technical and methodologic factors, including publication year, number of electrocardiographic leads, exercise protocol, use of hyperventilation, definition of an abnormal ST response, exclusion of certain subgroups, and blinding of test interpretation were analyzed. Wide variability in sensitivity and specificity was found (mean sensitivity, 68%; range, 23-100%; SD, 16%; and mean specificity, 77%; range, 17-100%; SD, 17%). The four study characteristics found to be significantly and independently related to sensitivity were the treatment of equivocal test results, comparison with a "better" test such as thallium scintigraphy, exclusion of patients on digitalis, and publication year. The four variables found to be significantly and independently related to specificity were the treatment of upsloping ST depressions, the exclusion of subjects with prior infarction or left bundle branch block, and the use of preexercise hyperventilation. Stepwise linear regression explained less than 35% of the variance in sensitivities and specificities reported in the 147 publications. There is wide variability in the reported accuracy of the exercise electrocardiogram. This variability is not explained by information reported in the medical literature.

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