Can serial exercise testing improve the prediction of coronary events in asymptomatic individuals?

R. A. Josephson, E. Shefrin, E. G. Lakatta, L. J. Brant, J. L. Fleg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An abnormal ST segment response to treadmill exercise has a low predictive value for future coronary events (angina pectoris, nonfatal myocardial infarction, or cardiac death) in apparently healthy individuals. To determine whether the conversion from a normal to an abnormal ST segment response might identify individuals at high risk for a future coronary event, we analyzed the results of serial exercise tests performed at 2-4-year intervals in 726 male and female volunteers, aged 22-84 years (mean, 55.1 years), from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA). All subjects were free of cardiovascular disease at entry by history, physical examination, and resting 12-lead electrocardiogram. Over a mean overall follow-up of 7.4 years, coronary events occurred in 34 of 178 (19.1%) of those with an abnormal ST response to exercise versus 30 of 548 (5.5%) in those with a normal response (p = 0.001). Angina pectoris was the most common presenting coronary event regardless of ST segment exercise response. Among individuals with an abnormal ST segment response, the incidence of events was virtually identical between those with an initially abnormal response (group 1) and those who converted from a normal to an abnormal response (group 2), 19.8% versus 18.5%. After adjustment for standard coronary risk factors by proportional hazards regression analysis, the risk of a coronary event relative to subjects with persistently normal ST segment responses (group 3) remained nearly identical in the two groups, 2.72 in group 1 (p < 0.003) and 2.80 in group 2 (p < 0.002). Thus, in asymptomatic individuals, conversion from a normal to an abnormal exercise ST segment response portends a prognosis similar to an initially abnormal response and cannot be considered a more specific marker for future coronary events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-24
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Exercise tests
  • Ischemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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