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Heart Lung Circ. 2019 May;28(5):735-741. doi: 10.1016/j.hlc.2018.02.010. Epub 2018 Mar 7.

Female False Positive Exercise Stress ECG Testing - Fact Versus Fiction.

Author information

1
HeartCare Partners, Brisbane, Qld, Australia; The Wesley Hospital, Brisbane, Qld, Australia; The Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane, Qld, Australia. Electronic address: bmcd124@yahoo.com.au.
2
University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld, Australia.
3
HeartCare Partners, Brisbane, Qld, Australia; The Wesley Hospital, Brisbane, Qld, Australia; The Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane, Qld, Australia; University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld, Australia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Exercise stress testing is a well validated cardiovascular investigation. Accuracy for treadmill stress electrocardiograph (ECG) testing has been documented at 60%. False positive stress ECGs (exercise ECG changes with non-obstructive disease on anatomical testing) are common, especially in women, limiting the effectiveness of the test. This study investigates the incidence and predictors of false positive stress ECG findings, referenced against stress echocardiography (SE) as a standard.

METHODS:

Stress echocardiography was performed using the Bruce treadmill protocol. False positive stress ECG tests were defined as greater than 1mm of ST depression on ECG during exertion, without pain, with a normal SE. Potential causes for false positive tests were recorded before the test.

RESULTS:

Three thousand (3,000) consecutive negative stress echocardiograms (1,036 females, 34.5%) were analysed (age 59+/-14 years. False positive (F+) stress ECGs were documented in 565/3,000 tests (18.8%). F+ stress ECGs were equally prevalent in females (194/1,036, 18.7%) and males (371/1,964, 18.9%, p=0.85 for the difference). Potential causes (hypertension, left ventricular hypertrophy, known coronary disease, arrhythmia, diabetes mellitus, valvular heart disease) were recorded in 36/194 (18.6%) of the female F+ ECG tests and 249/371 (68.2%) of the male F+ ECG tests (p<0.0001 for the difference).

CONCLUSIONS:

These data suggest that F+ stress ECG tests are frequent and equally common in women and men. However, most F+ stress ECGs in men can be predicted before the test, while most in women cannot. Being female may be a risk factor in itself. These data reinforce the value of stress imaging, particularly in women.

KEYWORDS:

False positive; Female; Predictors; Stress echocardiography; Stress testing

PMID:
29581040
DOI:
10.1016/j.hlc.2018.02.010
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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