OBJECTIVE--To assess the prognostic significance of transient ischaemic episodes during daily activities in patients with stable angina. PATIENTS AND METHODS--172 patients with stable angina attending the cardiac outpatients departments of Hillingdon Hospital (n = 155) and the National Heart Hospital (n = 17) were prospectively studied by exercise testing and 48 hours of ambulatory ST segment monitoring, and followed for prognostic purposes for up to 39 months (mean 24.5 months). Patient inclusion depended on a clinical diagnosis of stable coronary artery disease which necessitated outpatient review (and antianginal treatment in 94% of patients). It was not dependent on objective evidence of reversible ischaemia. Events recorded during the follow up period included death, non-fatal myocardial infarction, unstable angina, and the requirement for revascularisation. RESULTS--72 patients (42%) had transient ischaemic episodes during daily activities, and 104 patients (60.5%) had an ischaemic response to exercise. 63 patients (36%) had evidence of ischaemia on both investigations; with 59 (34%) having no documented ischaemia on either investigation. There were 27 patient events (15.7%) recorded over a mean 24.5 month follow up, including five deaths (2.9%) (three cardiac related (1.7%)), six non-fatal myocardial infarctions (3.5%), six admissions with unstable angina (3.5%), and 10 revascularisation procedures (5.8%). Of the nine "hard" or objective end points (cardiac death and non-fatal myocardial infarction), only two had evidence of transient ischaemia on ambulatory ST segment monitoring at initial investigation, with 10 of the 25 patients (38.5%) with any cardiac event having such episodes. CONCLUSIONS--The outcome in patients with chronic stable angina receiving standard medical treatment was good over a mean two year follow up period. For the purpose of assessing prognosis over this time scale, there was no advantage to performing ambulatory ST segment monitoring in such patients.
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