R wave amplitude changes during exercise have been ascribed to alteration in left ventricular volume and their measurement advocated for the improved diagnosis of coronary disease. The reproducibility of exercise QRS changes and their relation to ST segment depression, respiratory pattern, and left ventricular volume during ischaemia were studied in 10 patients with angina and coronary disease. QRS amplitude was measured in a 16 lead precordial map during three identical exercise tests in each patient and left ventricular volume assessed continuously using gated blood pool imaging with a single scintillation probe during manoeuvres to provoke ischaemia. During exercise, QRS amplitude increased or remained unchanged in four patients and fell in six patients in a consistent manner for each patient. R wave amplitude was not affected by changes in respiratory pattern. R wave amplitude did not alter in 33 of 39 episodes of left ventricular volume increase (mean 32%) or decrease (mean 36%) in end-diastolic counts. These findings suggest that precordial R wave changes during ischaemia are not determined primarily by alteration in left ventricular volume or the respiratory pattern. Though reproducible in each patient and following a definite relation to ST segment depression, the variable directional response during exercise suggest that R wave amplitude changes have little diagnostic value.
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