Running counter to a widespread belief among doctors, UC Davis researchers have show that testing on an exercise treadmill is a way to accurately predict coronary artery disease in women over 65.
Published in the December issue of The American Journal of Cardiology, the study analyzes 111 female UCD Medical Center patients who saw their doctors because of chest pain and whose treadmill test results showed a need for more cardiovascular testing. Each then underwent coronary angiography, a test where dye is injected to make the interior of the arteries visible in X-rays.
When test results were sorted by age, they showed that the treadmill test had correctly predicted heart disease in 68 percent of the patients 65 or older, when the prevalence of coronary artery disease increases sharply, according to a news release. That compared to just 36 percent accuracy for women younger than 50.
“Newer cardiac imaging technologies are more accurate in identifying the presence of heart disease, but those tests are considerably more expensive than ETT and in many cases unnecessary,” said Ezra Amsterdam, senior author of the study and professor of cardiovascular medicine.
“Our study found that the test is a very valuable tool for identifying coronary artery disease in women older than 65, and that it can be used to help select those who may require higher-tech diagnostics.”
The researchers also found two electrocardiogram parameters of heart stress due to poor blood flow that they believe will further increase the value of treadmill tests.