Sixty consecutive patients who were symptom free 2-12 months after an uncomplicated acute myocardial infarction underwent maximal treadmill exercise testing, radionuclide angiography before and during submaximal bicycle stress test, and coronary angiography. The results of the non-invasive procedures were compared with those of coronary angiography. The sensitivity and specificity of electrocardiogram stress test for detection of multivessel disease were 40% and 77% respectively. Failure of left ventricular ejection fraction to increase at least 5% with exercise identified 20 of the 25 patients with multivessel disease (sensitivity 80%) and 23 of the 35 patients with no additional coronary artery stenosis (specificity 66%). In patients with anterior Q waves the sensitivity was 78% and the specificity 50%, whereas in the presence of inferior Q waves these values were 81% and 87% respectively. Loss of left ventricle synchronicity during effort, as indicated by failure of the standard deviation of the phases to decrease during exercise, demonstrated a radionuclide angiography sensitivity of 80% (77% for anterior myocardial infarction and 81% for inferior myocardial infarction) and a specificity of 50% (33% for anterior myocardial infarction and 64% for inferior myocardial infarction). When the test was considered to be positive if either the ejection fraction or the standard deviation of the phases criteria were positive, the sensitivity was 100% and specificity 46% (30% for anterior myocardial infarction and 65% for inferior myocardial infarction). It is concluded that in patients who are free from angina 2-12 months after an episode of uncomplicated myocardial infarction, a simple exercise electrocardiogram cannot be relied upon to detect residual ischaemia. An abnormal ejection fraction response or an increased standard deviation of the phases during exercise nuclear angiography or both identified all the patients with multivessel disease. None of the patients in whom radionuclide angiographic criteria were negative had multivessel disease.
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