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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2001 Jun 15;37(8):2042-9.

Randomized comparison of a strategy of predischarge coronary angiography versus exercise testing in low-risk patients in a chest pain unit: in-hospital and long-term outcomes.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, USA.



This randomized trial compared a strategy of predischarge coronary angiography (CA) with exercise treadmill testing (ETT) in low-risk patients in the chest pain unit (CPU) to reduce repeat emergency department (ED) visits and to identify additional coronary artery disease (CAD).


Patients with chest pain and normal electrocardiograms (ECGs) have a low likelihood of CAD and a favorable prognosis, but they often seek repeat evaluations in EDs. Remaining uncertainty regarding their symptoms and diagnosis may cause much of this recidivism.


A total of 248 patients with no ischemic ECG changes triaged to a CPU were randomized to CA (n = 123) or ETT (n = 125). All patients had a probability of myocardial infarction < or =7% according to the Goldman algorithm, no biochemical evidence of infarction, the ability to exercise and no previous documented CAD. Patients were followed up for > or =1 year and surveyed regarding their chest pain self-perception and utility of the index evaluation.


Coronary angiography showed disease (> or =50% stenosis) in 19% and ETT was positive in 7% of the patients (p = 0.01). During follow-up (374+/-61 days), patients with a negative CA had fewer returns to the ED (10% vs. 30%, p = 0.0008) and hospital admissions (3% vs. 16%, p = 0.003), compared with patients with a negative/nondiagnostic ETT. The latter group was more likely to consider their pain as cardiac-related (15% vs. 7%), to be unsure about its etiology (38% vs. 26%) and to judge their evaluation as not useful (39% vs. 15%) (p < 0.01 for all comparisons).


In low-risk patients in the CPU, a strategy of CA detects more CAD than ETT, reduces long-term ED and hospital utilization and yields better patient satisfaction and understanding of their condition.

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