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EKG Not Strong Predictor of Heart Risk
Date:11/13/2008

Adds little to other diagnostic measures, British researchers report

THURSDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Performing an electrocardiogram (EKG) -- the standard test for measuring the activity of the heart -- is of little use in predicting future coronary problems for people who are examined because of chest pain, a British study suggests.

"In patients with stable chest pain, suspected angina, the resting EKG was of no incremental prognostic value as a means of assessing the risk of patients having further coronary events," said study author Dr. Adam Timmis, a professor of clinical cardiology at London Chest Hospital. The findings were published in the Nov. 14 online issue of the BMJ.

Chest pain is the most common reason people seek medical attention for possible heart trouble, and an EKG, also known as an ECG, is a common test for such people, Timmis said. "We were interested in the value of the EKG as a stand-alone predictor, its incremental value in addition to taking a history, doing a physical examination and so on," he said.

Timmis and his colleagues followed 8,176 patients with no history of heart disease who were referred to chest pain clinics because of suspected angina. All had EKGs done while they were resting, and 60 percent of them also had EKGs while they exercised. All had the usual clinical assessment, recording data such as age, sex, duration of symptoms, smoking status, high blood pressure history and medications they were taking.

The patients who had exercise EKGs done were split into two groups: "summary" results were recorded for 4,848, while additional "detailed" results were recorded for 1,422. All were then followed for several years. The researchers found that 47 percent of the coronary events that occurred happened to people whose exercise EKGs did not indicate any heart problems.

"We found that the exercise EKG had no added value over and above the clinical asse
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