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Am Heart J. 1985 Sep;110(3):529-34.

Asymptomatic transient ST changes during ambulatory ECG monitoring in diabetic patients.


The reported higher incidence of painless myocardial infarction in diabetic patients suggests that asymptomatic transient myocardial ischemia may also be frequent in diabetes. To explore this possibility 51 subjects with type II diabetes, aged 43 to 71 years (mean +/- SEM 56 +/- 8), 70 nondiabetic patients with coronary artery disease (mean age 55 +/- 5), and 40 nondiabetic patients without overt coronary disease (age 54 +/- 9) were studied. Thirty-eight of the 51 diabetic patients (74%) had evidence of associated coronary disease and 19 (37%) had evidence of previous myocardial infarction. All subjects underwent continuous 24-hour ambulatory ECG monitoring. In 18 of 51 diabetic patients 93 episodes (73% of the total number) of asymptomatic ST segment changes were recorded; the total number of symptomatic episodes was 36, and they were observed in seven patients (27%). Forty-eight (60%) asymptomatic and 32 symptomatic episodes of significant ST changes were found in nondiabetic patients with coronary artery disease. When patients with previous myocardial infarction were examined separately, asymptomatic episodes of significant ST changes were observed in 10 of 19 diabetic patients and in 5 of 25 nondiabetic patients with coronary artery disease (p less than 0.05). In an additional 28 diabetic patients who underwent exercise stress test, 15 exhibited an abnormal ECG response; however, only five of them (33%) were symptomatic. This study suggests that the incidence of transitory myocardial ischemia, as assessed by ambulatory ECG monitoring and exercise stress test, is higher in type II diabetic patients than in nondiabetic control subjects with coronary artery disease.

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