Fifty two patients were examined 4-6 weeks after myocardial infarction to assess whether factors other than coronary artery narrowing affect the maximal ST/HR slope which is used as an index of myocardial ischaemia. The slope was compared with indices of myocardial scarring or cardiac enlargement derived from x ray and echocardiographic and angio-cardiographic investigations. In 35 (67%) patients the slope failed to predict the severity of myocardial ischaemia attributable to coronary artery narrowing: in 14 (27%) patients the slope overestimated the findings of coronary angiography and in 21 (40%) patients the slope underestimated the findings of coronary angiography. In the remaining 17 (33%) patients the slope accorded with the assessment of myocardial ischaemia by coronary angiography. Underestimation by the slope was associated with significantly poorer left ventricular function and a lower ejection fraction, indicating a greater degree of myocardial scarring. To assess whether overestimation was related to cardiac enlargement with better preservation of ventricular function a follow up examination was performed six months after infarction. In the overestimated group 11 patients were followed up and seven of them showed a reduction in the maximal ST/HR slope which correlated with a reduction in the cardiothoracic ratio. This suggested that cardiac enlargement had contributed to myocardial ischaemia. The results suggest that if the maximal ST/HR slope is an index of exercise induced myocardial ischaemia after recent infarction, it is subject to the influences of coronary artery narrowing as well as those of scarring and cardiac enlargement.
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