Myocardial scintigraphy with thallium-201 and electrocardiogram-gated left ventriculography with technetium-99m labelled red blood cells were applied in four groups of subjects: 25 with no signs or symptoms of cardiovascular disease (group 1), 28 with a "false" positive exercise electrocardiogram (group 2), 14 with angina pectoris and normal coronary angiograms (group 3), and 43 with angina pectoris and fixed coronary artery stenoses (group 4). In groups 1 and 4 the radionuclide findings were in accordance with clinical and invasive measurements. In groups 2 and 3 the most important finding was the lack of increase in left ventricular ejection fraction during exercise in about half of these subjects (even a decrease in 25%), indicating subnormal myocardial reserve. The additional finding of pathological myocardial biopsies in four of these patients suggests that asymptomatic ST depression in patients with normal coronary angiograms may in some cases represent an early, preclinical sign of cardiomyopathy.
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