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Clinical Guidelines |

Exercise Tolerance Testing To Screen for Coronary Heart Disease: A Systematic Review for the Technical Support for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force FREE

Angela Fowler-Brown, MD; Michael Pignone, MD, MPH; Mark Pletcher, MD, MPH; Jeffrey A. Tice, MD; Sonya F. Sutton, BSPH; and Kathleen N. Lohr, PhD
[+] Article and Author Information

From University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, Chapel Hill, and RTI International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; and University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California.


Acknowledgments: The authors thank Jacqueline Besteman, JD, Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality EPC Programs; David Atkins, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Center for Practice Technology and Assessment; Jean Slutsky, PA, MSPH, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Task Order Officer, for their assistance. They also thank Paul Frame, MD, Tri-County Family Medicine, Cohocton, New York, and Carolyn Westhoff, MD, MPH, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Columbia University, New York, New York, who were the liaisons for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Finally, they thank Tammeka Swinson, BA, and Loraine Monroe of RTI International.

Grant Support: By contract 290-97-0011, Task Order 3, from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest:Consultancies: M. Pignone (Bayer, Inc.); Honoraria: M. Pignone (Bayer, Inc.); Expert testimony: M. Pignone (Bayer, Inc.); Grants received: M. Pignone (Bayer, Inc.); Royalties: M. Pignone (Bayer, Inc.).

Requests for Single Reprints: Reprints are available from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Web site (http://www.preventiveservices.ahrq.gov) and through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Publications Clearinghouse (telephone, 800-358-9295).

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Fowler-Brown and Pignone: Division of General Internal Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 5039 Old Clinic Building, UNC Hospital, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7110.

Dr. Pletcher: Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, 500 Parnassus Avenue, MU 420 W, San Francisco, CA 94143-0560.

Dr. Tice: Division of General Internal Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, 400 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94143.

Ms. Sutton and Dr. Lohr: RTI International, 3040 Cornwallis Road, P.O. Box 21294, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709.


Ann Intern Med. 2004;140(7):W-9-W-24. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-140-7-200404060-w1
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Background: Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Exercise tolerance testing has been proposed as a means of better identifying asymptomatic patients at high risk for coronary heart disease events.

Purpose: To review the evidence on the use of exercise tolerance testing to screen adults with no history of cardiovascular disease for coronary heart disease.

Data Sources: The MEDLINE database from 1966 through February 2003, hand-searching of bibliographies, and expert input.

Study Selection: Eligible studies evaluated the benefits or harms of exercise tolerance testing when added to traditional risk assessment for adults with no known history of cardiovascular events.

Data Extraction: One reviewer extracted information from eligible articles into evidence tables, and another reviewer checked the tables. Disagreements were resolved by consensus.

Data Synthesis: No study has directly examined the effect of screening asymptomatic patients with exercise tolerance testing on coronary heart disease outcomes or risk-reducing behaviors or therapies. Multiple cohort studies demonstrate that screening exercise tolerance testing identifies a small proportion of asymptomatic persons (up to 2.7% of those screened) with severe coronary artery obstruction who may benefit from revascularization. Several large prospective cohort studies, conducted principally in middle-aged men, suggest that exercise tolerance testing can provide independent prognostic information about the risk for future coronary heart disease events (relative risk with abnormal exercise tolerance testing, 2.0 to 5.0). However, when the risk for coronary heart disease events is low, most positive findings will be false and may result in unnecessary further testing or worry. The risk level at which the benefits of additional prognostic information outweigh the harms of false-positive results is unclear and requires further study.

Conclusions: Although screening exercise tolerance testing detects severe coronary artery obstruction in a small proportion of persons screened and can provide independent prognostic information about the risk for coronary heart disease events, the effect of this information on clinical management and disease outcomes in asymptomatic patients is unclear.

Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, more than 1 million Americans experience nonfatal or fatal myocardial infarction or sudden death from coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease can also present as angina, but only 20% of acute coronary events are preceded by long-standing angina (1). An estimated 1 to 2 million middle-aged men have asymptomatic but physiologically significant coronary artery obstruction, which puts them at increased risk for coronary heart disease events (23). The economic burden of coronary heart disease is also substantial. The direct and indirect costs of coronary heart disease in the United States are projected to total $129.9 billion for 2003 (1). The clinical and economic impact of coronary heart disease is the basis for considerable public health interest in the development of effective strategies to reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease events.

In 1996, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force considered the use of resting electrocardiography or exercise tolerance testing to detect asymptomatic coronary artery disease and prevent coronary heart disease events (4). The Task Force found insufficient evidence to recommend for or against using these tests to screen middle-aged and older men and women. They recommended against screening children, adolescents, or young adults.

To update the evidence review and recommendations on screening for asymptomatic coronary artery disease, the Task Force and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality requested that the RTI International–University of North Carolina Evidence-based Practice Center perform an updated evidence review beginning in 2001. The complete review considers resting electrocardiography, exercise tolerance testing, and electron-beam computed tomography for coronary calcium and is available at http://www.ahrq.gov(5). This article describes the findings on exercise tolerance testing only. The recommendations and rationale of the Task Force on screening for asymptomatic coronary artery disease are available at http://www.ahrq.gov(6).

Clinicians can use 2 general approaches to prevention of morbidity and mortality from coronary heart disease. The first approach involves screening for and treating the traditional modifiable risk factors for coronary heart disease, such as hypertension, abnormal blood levels of lipids, diabetes, cigarette smoking, physical inactivity, and diet. Such an approach may incorporate explicit calculations of the patient's risk for coronary heart disease events by using risk prediction equations derived from the Framingham Heart Study or other cohort studies (7). The second strategy involves supplementation of screening based on traditional risk factors with additional tests to provide further information about future risk for coronary heart disease or to detect severe blockages of the coronary arteries that might warrant treatment.

Detection of increased risk for future coronary heart disease events may lead to intensified use of risk-reducing treatments. Some risk-reducing treatments are directed at traditional risk factors (for example, therapy with statins for hyperlipidemia), whereas others are not (for example, aspirin therapy). Revascularization by using coronary artery bypass graft surgery or percutaneous coronary intervention seeks to treat blockages of the coronary arteries. Whether revascularization will reduce the risk for coronary heart disease events in persons identified by screening is unknown.

Exercise tolerance testing is widely used as a diagnostic test in the initial evaluation of patients with symptoms suggestive of myocardial ischemia and in persons with previously recognized coronary heart disease. Although exercise tolerance testing has been applied and studied as a screening or prognostic test in asymptomatic persons, its utility in this group is controversial. The best measure of the value of screening exercise tolerance testing would come from studies that examined whether patients randomly assigned to undergo such tests had fewer coronary heart disease events or received more appropriate risk-reducing therapies than did patients assigned to receive treatments after standard risk factor assessment.

Such direct evidence is not available. However, indirect evidence suggests that screening exercise tolerance testing may be helpful in guiding medical management (8). In the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial Research study, high-risk male participants were randomly assigned to receive a multimodal intervention to reduce cardiovascular risk or usual care. Among participants with an abnormal baseline result on exercise tolerance testing, those who received the intervention had a significantly lower rate of mortality from coronary heart disease during follow-up than did the group that received usual care. No effect was seen among men with a normal baseline result on exercise tolerance testing. It is not clear from the report of this post hoc analysis whether the cardiovascular risk profiles of participants with an abnormal result on exercise tolerance testing at baseline differed significantly from those of participants with a normal result.

Because direct evidence on possible benefits of screening exercise tolerance testing is lacking, we used data from observational cohort studies to examine whether screening exercise tolerance testing could detect clinically significant asymptomatic obstructions of the coronary arteries or provide greater independent prognostic information about the risk for future coronary heart disease events than would be obtained solely by standard history, physical examination, and measurement of traditional risk factors. We also sought information about harms of screening, including the likelihood of false-positive results and the effect of labeling a person as being “at high risk.”

Literature Review

To identify the relevant literature, we searched the MEDLINE database from 1966 through February 2003 by using the exploded Medical Subject Headings coronary heart disease, exercise test, and mass screening and the keywords asymptomatic and screening. We limited the search to English-language articles on human subjects. To supplement our literature searches, we hand-searched the bibliographies of key articles, used other recent systematic reviews when available, and included references provided by expert reviewers that had not been identified by other mechanisms.

Study Eligibility and Data Abstraction

Two reviewers examined the abstracts of the articles identified in the initial MEDLINE search and selected a subset for a full-text review. The same reviewers examined the full text of the selected articles to determine final eligibility. One reviewer extracted information from eligible articles into evidence tables, and another reviewer checked the tables. They resolved disagreements by consensus.

To be eligible, studies had to have been performed in participants with no history of cardiovascular disease or to provide subset analysis for this group. Included studies on the detection of severe coronary artery obstruction reported the total number of persons screened to obtain the sample of persons with an abnormal result on exercise tolerance testing and the proportion of persons who were found to have coronary heart disease on angiography. The yield of exercise tolerance testing screening was determined by dividing the number of participants found to have abnormal results on angiography by the total number screened.

For the prognostic benefit of exercise tolerance testing, included studies reported the independent value of the test for predicting coronary heart disease events. We included studies that examined the prognostic benefit of exercise testing by using several different variables, including ST-segment depression, functional capacity, chronotropic incompetence, heart rate recovery, and development of exercise-induced premature ventricular contractions. We also included studies that used nuclear medicine imaging to detect ischemia. We excluded studies that did not use statistical methods to control for the effect of other risk factors (such as age or systolic blood pressure) on the estimate of the prognostic strength of a positive result on exercise tolerance testing. Table 1 shows information on excluded studies.

The studies used different means of characterizing the prognostic benefit of screening with exercise tolerance testing. Many studies reported outcomes in terms of independent relative risk associated with a positive (versus a negative) screening test. Others used diagnostic test terminology, such as “sensitivity and specificity” or “positive predictive value.” In such cases, the terms are used to indicate test accuracy over the entire follow-up period rather than at 1 point in time.

To assess whether a relationship exists between sensitivity of exercise tolerance testing for future coronary heart disease and duration of follow-up, we examined the correlation between reported sensitivity and mean duration of follow-up by using Stata statistical software, version 7.0 (Stata Corp., Chicago, Illinois).

Data Summary and Quality Assessment

We rated the quality of the included articles according to criteria developed by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Methods Work Group (9). For the studies shown in Table 2, we considered several factors that affect quality, chiefly the percentage of patients with a positive result on exercise tolerance testing who underwent catheterization and how completely outcomes were assessed. We used the final set of eligible articles to create evidence tables and produce the larger evidence report, which also included evaluation of resting electrocardiography and electron-beam computed tomography to detect coronary calcium. The full evidence report was subjected to external peer review and was revised on the basis of the comments received; we used the revised report as the basis for this article. Tables 3 and 4 show information only from studies judged “good.”

Table Jump PlaceholderTable 2.  Studies of the Use of Exercise Electrocardiography To Detect Asymptomatic Prevalent Coronary Heart Disease
Table Jump PlaceholderTable 3.  Association between Abnormal ST-Segment Response to Exercise and Coronary Heart Disease Events in Asymptomatic Persons
Table Jump PlaceholderTable 4.  Association between Exercise Predictors and Coronary Heart Disease Events in Asymptomatic Persons
Role of the Funding Agency

This evidence report was funded through a contract to the RTI–University of North Carolina Evidence-based Practice Center from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Staff of the funding agency contributed to the study design, reviewed draft and final manuscripts, and made editing suggestions.

We identified 713 articles for review. We reviewed the abstracts and retained 55 articles that examined the diagnostic or prognostic significance of screening with exercise tolerance testing. After full article review, we kept 31 articles representing 29 studies that met the inclusion criteria (1040). We identified another 11 articles for inclusion through review of reference lists and input of expert reviewers (8, 4150). Table 1 lists articles that were excluded during review of the full articles and the reason for exclusion (5174).

We found no studies that directly tested whether screening asymptomatic persons with exercise tolerance testing improves coronary heart disease and mortality. Similarly, we found no studies that examined the effect of screening with exercise tolerance testing on the subsequent use of risk-reducing interventions and behaviors. However, we identified fair- or good-quality observational cohort studies of asymptomatic adults that prospectively evaluated the value of exercise tolerance testing in detecting asymptomatic coronary artery obstruction (1418, 2223, 25, 2728, 3031, 38, 75) and predicting future coronary heart disease events, such as angina, myocardial infarction, and sudden death (8, 1013, 1921, 26, 29, 3236, 3850). We also identified 3 good-quality studies that estimated the cost-effectiveness of exercise tolerance testing to identify asymptomatic, severe, prevalent coronary heart disease (24, 28, 37).

Exercise Tolerance Testing To Detect Asymptomatic Prevalent Disease

We identified 13 studies in 14 articles that examined the utility of exercise tolerance testing to detect asymptomatic coronary artery obstruction (Table 2) (1415, 18, 2223, 25, 2728, 3031, 38, 75). In these studies, the prevalence of abnormal exercise tolerance testing, usually defined as exercise-induced ST-segment depression of 1 mm or more, ranged from about 3% among aviators who were presumed healthy (16) to 29% in a sample of diabetic persons in Finland (15, 75). A portion of the participants with a positive result on exercise tolerance testing in each study (1% to 60%) proceeded to evaluation with cardiac catheterization. Screening with exercise tolerance testing yielded angiographically demonstrable coronary heart disease, usually defined as greater than 50% stenosis of a major coronary artery, in a minority of the screened patients.

The yield of screening exercise tolerance testing was greater in higher-risk groups. Five studies in 6 articles evaluated diabetic persons (15, 75), those with multiple risk factors (18, 31), those with siblings with coronary heart disease (17) and those who were prescreened by using a chest pain questionnaire (25). In these studies, the yield of screening for angiographically demonstrable coronary heart disease ranged from 1.2% (31) to 9% (15, 18). Most cases of coronary artery obstruction identified by screening were single-vessel disease, but up to 2.7% of screened participants had significant left main or three-vessel disease (18) and as many as 1.7% proceeded to revascularization after screening (25). Eight studies screened unselected, low-risk patients (14, 16, 2223, 2728, 30, 38). These studies demonstrated a yield of 0.06% to 1.6% for asymptomatic coronary heart disease on angiography.

Cost-Effectiveness

Three studies attempted to estimate the cost-effectiveness of screening to identify prevalent coronary artery obstruction. Sox and colleagues (24) used a decision analysis model to estimate the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of exercise testing in asymptomatic adults. Their model was structured so that the benefit of screening was achieved through detection of patients with severe disease who would benefit from revascularization. Only direct costs were considered. Levels were based on reimbursement rates at the time of the study (late 1980s): $165 for exercise testing, $3595 for angiography, and $31 178 for coronary artery bypass surgery. No discounting rate was given. Screening 60-year-old men had a cost per life-year saved of $24 600; for 60-year-old women, the cost was $47 606. For persons 40 years of age, the cost-effectiveness ratios were much higher: $80 349 per life-year saved for men and $216 496 per life-year saved for women.

The presence or absence of risk factors for coronary heart disease affected the cost-effectiveness ratios. The cost per life-year saved was $44 332 for 60-year-old men with no risk factors and $20 504 for those with 1 or more risk factors. The investigators concluded that routine screening was not warranted in general but that it may be beneficial for persons at increased risk for coronary heart disease (for example, older men with 1 or more risk factors). An earlier cost-effectiveness analysis of screening exercise tolerance testing had similar findings (37).

Pilote and colleagues (28) performed a cost analysis of data from their study of the clinical yield of screening exercise tolerance testing to detect unsuspected severe coronary artery obstruction. They sampled more than 4000 persons referred to the Cleveland Clinic for screening exercise tolerance testing. Data on cost were obtained from 1994 Medicare reimbursement rates: $110 for exercise testing, $1780 for angiography, and $27 270 for coronary artery bypass surgery. Screening identified 19 patients with severe coronary artery obstruction (0.44% of the cohort); of these, 14 had subsequent coronary artery bypass graft surgery. The investigators estimated a cost of $39 623 to identify 1 case of severe coronary artery disease by screening exercise tolerance testing. The estimated cost per year of life saved was $55 274.

On the basis of these studies, it appears that screening with exercise treadmill testing and performing bypass surgery on persons with severe obstructions is relatively cost-effective compared with other, better-accepted types of preventive care, such as mammography in women 50 to 69 years of age (76).

Exercise Tolerance Testing as a Prediction Tool for Risk for Coronary Heart Disease Events

Exercise tolerance testing can be used to provide information about a person's risk for a future coronary heart disease event that may augment the predictive ability of traditional risk assessment. Better risk assessment may help clinicians and patients make better decisions about interventions for intermediate- and long-term risk reduction.

ST-Segment Response

Traditionally, studies of the predictive value of exercise tolerance testing on future coronary heart disease have examined ST-segment response to exercise as the risk predictor. Most of these studies reported the total number of coronary heart disease events (fatal and nonfatal myocardial infarction, new-onset stable or unstable angina, and coronary death) as their main outcome. Others reported death from coronary heart disease or from all causes as the main outcome or as secondary outcomes. The mortality rate from coronary heart disease, and particularly the total mortality rate, may be less subject to ascertainment bias than is the total number of coronary heart disease events and hence may be more valid measures. However, whether from coronary heart disease or other causes, death is uncommon in the generally healthy, asymptomatic patients enrolled in these studies, making it difficult to estimate the ability of exercise tolerance testing to predict such events.

We identified 15 studies in 18 articles that examined the relationship between ST-segment response to exercise and risk for future coronary heart disease events (Table 3) (8, 1113, 1921, 26, 29, 3233, 36, 3942, 45, 50). Thirteen of these studies (in 16 articles) found that ST-segment response during exercise predicted future coronary heart disease events (8, 1113, 1921, 26, 29, 33, 36, 3941, 45, 50). In 1 of these studies, only coronary heart disease events occurring during exercise was considered as the outcome (12); we therefore excluded it from analysis of the predictive utility for coronary heart disease events. Two studies found that ST-segment response to exercise alone did not predict future coronary heart disease events (32, 42).

Of the studies that found ST-segment response to be predictive of future coronary heart disease events, 6 (published in 8 articles) selected persons for participation on the basis of the presence of 1 or more risk factors: diabetes (13), multiple risk factors (8, 33, 39, 50), hyperlipidemia (26, 41), and sedentary lifestyle and obesity (29). The prevalence of an abnormal result on exercise tolerance testing, usually defined as ST-segment depression of 1 mm or more, ranged from 12% to 52%. After adjustment for other risk factors, the independent relative risk for coronary heart disease events associated with an abnormal ST-segment response to exercise in these higher-risk groups ranged from 3.5 (8, 50) to 21.0 (13). Sensitivity for occurrence of coronary heart disease events over the duration of the studies (3 to 8 years) ranged from 30% to 100%. The positive predictive value of an abnormal result on exercise tolerance testing ranged from 7.1% (26, 41) to 46% (29).

Seven studies (published in 8 articles) found ST-segment response to exercise to be predictive of future coronary heart disease events in an unselected, low-risk sample (11, 1921, 33, 36, 40, 45). The prevalence of an abnormal test tended to be lower than that in the higher-risk sample, ranging from 3% (33) to 20% (11, 21). The independent relative risk for coronary heart disease events associated with an abnormal result on exercise tolerance testing ranged from 1.6 (40) to 21 (33), with the majority of the values between 2.0 and 5.0. Gibbons and colleagues (33) reported a higher relative risk in low-risk persons (21.0) than did the other investigators; however, the absolute event rate was low (0.08 to 2.8 events/1000 person-years) and the confidence interval was wide (6.9 to 63.3). The sensitivity of exercise tolerance testing for coronary heart disease events was 10% (45) to 70% (11, 21). The positive predictive values ranged from 2.2% (33) to 24% (19).

Two of the studies added nuclear perfusion imaging to exercise electrocardiography (19, 32). These studies reported positive predictive values of about 50%. However, imaging is likely to increase screening program costs (19, 32).

As might be expected, the sensitivity of an abnormal result on exercise tolerance testing decreased as the duration of follow-up increased (r =−0.56). Data from these cohort studies suggest that the majority of asymptomatic persons with an abnormal result on exercise tolerance testing do not go on to have coronary heart disease events, at least within the time frame of follow-up. Persons who do have events often develop angina rather than experience myocardial infarction or sudden death. The prevalence of an abnormal result on exercise tolerance testing and its predictive value among asymptomatic persons are greater in those at higher risk. These data are consistent with those of other investigators and policymakers who have suggested that the value of exercise tolerance testing is greater when it is applied to patients with 1 or more risk factors for coronary heart disease because selection of a higher-risk cohort for screening increases the prevalence of disease and positive predictive value (10). Bruce and associates (10) reported that in the Seattle Heart Watch Study of 4158 asymptomatic men and women, a positive result on exercise tolerance testing in the absence of risk factors provided little predictive value. However, among patients with 1 or more other risk factors for coronary heart disease, the occurrence of 2 different types of abnormal response to exercise tolerance testing (exercise risk predictors) was associated with a 15-fold increase in risk compared with patients who had a normal result.

Other Exercise Predictors

More recent studies of the value of exercise testing in asymptomatic persons have examined the utility of other exercise-associated risk markers, including functional capacity, chronotropic incompetence, heart rate recovery, and development of exercise-induced premature ventricular contractions, for predicting patients' risk for coronary heart disease events or death (Table 4) (21, 3435, 4249). In contrast to ST-segment response, these exercise indicators may not directly detect ischemic myocardium, but they probably indicate other cardiovascular derangements, such as abnormal autonomic regulation, that predict coronary heart disease events. In general, these findings are associated with moderate increases in risk for coronary heart disease after adjustment for other risk factors for coronary heart disease (relative risk, 1.7 to 3.5). Some factors are common: For example, failure to achieve target heart rate was noted in 21% of patients in the Framingham Offspring Study (44).

Exercise Tolerance Testing in Women

Two recent studies contribute important information on the predictive value of exercise tolerance testing in asymptomatic women (4243). The majority of other studies that we identified did not include women or did not provide subgroup analysis of the predictive value of screening exercise tolerance testing for women. Mora and colleagues (42) analyzed data from the female participants in the Lipid Research Clinics Prevalence Study, many of whom had hyperlipidemia. They found that unlike in studies whose samples comprised predominantly men, ST-segment response did not predict future risk for coronary heart disease events (relative risk, 0.88 [95% CI, 0.48 to 1.61]) in women (42). Low exercise capacity, along with low heart rate recovery after exercise, was an independent predictor of death from coronary heart disease (relative risk, 3.52 [95% CI, 1.57 to 7.86]) and of all-cause death (relative risk, 2.11 [95% CI, 1.47 to 3.04]) in women.

Gulati and coworkers (43) sampled asymptomatic female volunteers living in the Chicago area. They found that exercise capacity predicts risk for all-cause death in women. For every increase in exercise capacity of 1 metabolic equivalent, the relative risk for death was 0.83 (95% CI, 0.78 to 0.89). The predictive utility of exercise markers other than ST-segment response in these 2 studies of women is consistent with the results of similar studies in which most participants were men.

Exercise Tolerance Testing before Beginning an Exercise Program

Exercise tolerance testing is frequently used as part of an evaluation of middle-aged persons before they begin an exercise program. Few data are available to determine the effectiveness of this approach in reducing the risk for activity-related coronary heart disease events. Siscovick and colleagues (12) analyzed the effectiveness of exercise tolerance testing to predict activity-related coronary heart disease events in the Lipid Research Clinics cohort of asymptomatic hypercholesterolemic men. After an initial exercise tolerance test, the cohort was followed for an average of 7.4 years; during that time, the investigators used retrospective record review to identify coronary heart disease events that were associated with moderate or intense activity. The cumulative incidence of activity-related coronary heart disease events during follow-up was 2%. An abnormal ST-segment response to exercise at the time of entry into the study was associated with a relative risk of 2.6 (95% CI, 1.3 to 5.2) for activity-related coronary heart disease events. The sensitivity of exercise testing for predicting the events was 18%, and the predictive value of a positive test result for coronary heart disease events during exercise was 4%. Of the persons who had an activity-associated coronary heart disease event, 80% had an initially normal ST-segment response to exercise; 94% of persons with abnormal ST-segment response to exercise did not have an activity-associated event during follow-up. Thus, exercise testing appears to have limited ability to detect persons who will have exercise-related coronary heart disease events.

Adverse Effects of Screening Exercise Tolerance Testing

Other than information on the frequency of false-positive results, we found no studies that examined the potential harms of screening. No study reported rates of complications from angiography of asymptomatic persons, measures of anxiety from knowledge of an abnormal test result, or adverse events from medical therapy initiated because of an abnormal test result.

We identified no randomized trials that examined the effect of screening exercise tolerance testing to guide management and improve health outcomes of coronary heart disease or affect the use of risk-reducing treatments in asymptomatic adults. Exercise tolerance testing of asymptomatic persons rarely detects previously unrecognized, clinically important coronary artery obstruction (up to 2.7% of screened persons). It does provide some independent prognostic information in at least some persons (relative risk of about 2.0 to 5.0 for coronary heart disease events associated with an abnormal result) above and beyond the prognostic information that can be gained from traditional assessment of risk factors. The effect of this additional information on clinical decision making, however, has not been studied. The potential benefits of screening exercise tolerance testing are likely to be small for groups in which the prevalence of the disease is low, such as young adults; such screening would also produce many cases of false-positive results. In such cases, the costs and harms associated with additional testing may exceed any benefits from screening.

The value of screening exercise tolerance testing rests in large part on the underlying incidence of coronary heart disease events and the prevalence of serious artery obstructions in the screened sample. Exercise tolerance testing will probably perform better when applied to higher-risk groups, such as persons with 1 or more risk factors for coronary heart disease. Selection of a higher-risk group for screening increases the prevalence of disease in those screened and, thus, the predictive value of a positive test result. Whether the benefits of such tests exceed the disadvantages, including costs, in higher-risk groups is still unclear at present and requires investigation.

For persons at low risk for coronary heart disease events, a positive result on exercise tolerance testing is much more likely to be false positive than true positive. False-positive results in this context are concerning because they can lead to unnecessary, and possibly injurious, additional procedures.

Screening has been advocated for people with high-risk occupations, but we did not identify new studies on the effect of screening such patients. Data from studies of patients with known coronary heart disease but no ischemic symptoms suggest that treatment with medications, such as β-blockers, or revascularization can improve outcomes over no treatment, but whether patients with no history of coronary heart disease would have the same results is unclear (77).

Exercise tolerance testing can be normal or nondiagnostic in an important proportion of patients who will experience a coronary heart disease event, as evidenced by the sensitivity values of 10% to 74% in the studies that evaluated ST-segment depression as a risk marker (Table 3). In a defined cohort of low-risk patients, a larger absolute number of coronary heart disease events occurs among those with an initially normal result on exercise tolerance testing than among those with an initially abnormal result. The suboptimal sensitivity of ST-segment response for predicting coronary heart disease events may be explained in part by the fact that ST-segment depression on exercise tolerance testing detects ischemia from obstructed coronary arteries, but many acute coronary heart disease events result from sudden occlusion of a previously nonobstructed segment of artery (78). Use of other measures from the exercise test that are not as dependent on identification of atherosclerotic obstructions may mitigate this dilemma (79).

The primary tangible harm of screening exercise tolerance testing is the potential for medical complications related to cardiac catheterization done to further evaluate a positive result. Coronary angiography is generally considered a safe procedure. Of all persons undergoing outpatient coronary angiography, however, an estimated 0.08% will die as a result of the procedure and 1.8% will experience a complication (80). Complications of coronary angiography include myocardial infarction, stroke, arrhythmia, dissection of the aorta and coronary artery, retroperitoneal bleeding, femoral artery aneurysm, renal dysfunction, and systemic infection. Rates of complications are likely to be somewhat lower in asymptomatic persons, but no good data are available. A positive result on exercise tolerance testing may also be an impetus to initiate risk-reducing therapy; hence, another potential harm of screening is use of such therapies as aspirin or statins to overtreat persons who would not otherwise require treatment (that is, would be considered low risk) if they did not have an abnormal result on exercise tolerance testing. Other potential harms, including the psychological consequences of a false-positive test result, also have not been well studied.

Our findings are consistent with those of the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology expert panel, which also examined the effectiveness of screening exercise tolerance testing (33). They recommended against routine exercise tolerance testing in asymptomatic adults because of concerns about the positive and negative predictive value of screening exercise tolerance testing and the potential harms of false-positive results. The American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology found that screening exercise tolerance testing for persons with multiple risk factors to guide risk-reduction therapy or for sedentary middle-aged adults who wish to start a vigorous exercise program is controversial but potentially beneficial.

Further studies are required to determine the balance of benefits and harms of screening exercise tolerance testing for patients with different degrees of risk for coronary heart disease. An adequately powered randomized trial of screening exercise tolerance testing compared with management based on traditional risk factors would greatly inform clinical decision making. Such a study should compare a traditional global coronary heart disease risk assessment tool to a screening strategy that also incorporates exercise tolerance testing. A broad spectrum of patients should be enrolled, including a sufficient number of women. Studies examining how providers and patients actually apply the additional information from exercise tolerance testing will also be helpful. Finally, better information about the adverse effects of screening is required if researchers are to perform well-informed cost-effectiveness analyses of exercise tolerance testing screening plus risk factor–based decision making compared with risk-factor–based decision making alone.

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Bruce RA, Hossack KF, DeRouen TA, Hofer V.  Enhanced risk assessment for primary coronary heart disease events by maximal exercise testing: 10 years' experience of Seattle Heart Watch. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1983; 2:565-73. PubMed
 
Josephson RA, Shefrin E, Lakatta EG, Brant LJ, Fleg JL.  Can serial exercise testing improve the prediction of coronary events in asymptomatic individuals? Circulation. 1990; 81:20-4. PubMed
 
Siscovick DS, Ekelund LG, Johnson JL, Truong Y, Adler A.  Sensitivity of exercise electrocardiography for acute cardiac events during moderate and strenuous physical activity. The Lipid Research Clinics Coronary Primary Prevention Trial. Arch Intern Med. 1991; 151:325-30. PubMed
 
Rutter MK, Wahid ST, McComb JM, Marshall SM.  Significance of silent ischemia and microalbuminuria in predicting coronary events in asymptomatic patients with type 2 diabetes. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2002; 40:56-61. PubMed
 
Boyle RM, Adlakha HL, Mary DA.  Diagnostic value of the maximal ST segment/heart rate slope in asymptomatic factory populations. J Electrocardiol. 1987; 20:suppl128-34. PubMed
 
Koistinen MJ.  Prevalence of asymptomatic myocardial ischaemia in diabetic subjects. BMJ. 1990; 301:92-5. PubMed
 
Piepgrass SR, Uhl GS, Hickman JR Jr, Hopkirk JA, Plowman K.  Limitations of the exercise stress test in the detection of coronary artery disease in apparently healthy men. Aviat Space Environ Med. 1982; 53:379-82. PubMed
 
Blumenthal RS, Becker DM, Yanek LR, Aversano TR, Moy TF, Kral BG, et al..  Detecting occult coronary disease in a high-risk asymptomatic population. Circulation. 2003; 107:702-7. PubMed
 
Massie BM, Szlachcic Y, Tubau JF, O'Kelly BF, Ammon S, Chin W.  Scintigraphic and electrocardiographic evidence of silent coronary artery disease in asymptomatic hypertension: a case-control study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1993; 22:1598-606. PubMed
 
Fleg JL, Gerstenblith G, Zonderman AB, Becker LC, Weisfeldt ML, Costa PT Jr, et al..  Prevalence and prognostic significance of exercise-induced silent myocardial ischemia detected by thallium scintigraphy and electrocardiography in asymptomatic volunteers. Circulation. 1990; 81:428-36. PubMed
 
Laukkanen JA, Kurl S, Lakka TA, Tuomainen TP, Rauramaa R, Salonen R, et al..  Exercise-induced silent myocardial ischemia and coronary morbidity and mortality in middle-aged men. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2001; 38:72-9. PubMed
 
Rywik TM, O'Connor FC, Gittings NS, Wright JG, Khan AA, Fleg JL.  Role of nondiagnostic exercise-induced ST-segment abnormalities in predicting future coronary events in asymptomatic volunteers. Circulation. 2002; 106:2787-92. PubMed
 
Livschitz S, Sharabi Y, Yushin J, Bar-On Z, Chouraqui P, Burstein M, et al..  Limited clinical value of exercise stress test for the screening of coronary artery disease in young, asymptomatic adult men. Am J Cardiol. 2000; 86:462-4. PubMed
 
Davies B, Ashton WD, Rowlands DJ, El-Sayed M, Wallace PC, Duckett K, et al..  Association of conventional and exertional coronary heart disease risk factors in 5,000 apparently healthy men. Clin Cardiol. 1996; 19:303-8. PubMed
 
Sox HC Jr, Littenberg B, Garber AM.  The role of exercise testing in screening for coronary artery disease. Ann Intern Med. 1989; 110:456-69. PubMed
 
Cameron JD, Jennings GL, Kay S, Wahi S, Bennett KE, Reid C, et al..  A self-administered questionnaire for detection of unrecognised coronary heart disease. Aust N Z J Public Health. 1997; 21:545-7. PubMed
 
Ekelund LG, Suchindran CM, McMahon RP, Heiss G, Leon AS, Romhilt DW, et al..  Coronary heart disease morbidity and mortality in hypercholesterolemic men predicted from an exercise test: the Lipid Research Clinics Coronary Primary Prevention Trial. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1989; 14:556-63. PubMed
 
Caralis DG, Bailey I, Kennedy HL, Pitt B.  Thallium-201 myocardial imaging in evaluation of asymptomatic individuals with ischaemic ST segment depression on exercise electrocardiogram. Br Heart J. 1979; 42:562-7. PubMed
 
Pilote L, Pashkow F, Thomas JD, Snader CE, Harvey SA, Marwick TH, et al..  Clinical yield and cost of exercise treadmill testing to screen for coronary artery disease in asymptomatic adults. Am J Cardiol. 1998; 81:219-24. PubMed
 
Katzel LI, Sorkin JD, Goldberg AP.  Exercise-induced silent myocardial ischemia and future cardiac events in healthy, sedentary, middle-aged and older men. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1999; 47:923-9. PubMed
 
Dunn RL, Matzen RN, VanderBrug-Medendorp S.  Screening for the detection of coronary artery disease by using the exercise tolerance test in a preventive medicine population. Am J Prev Med. 1991; 7:255-62. PubMed
 
Okin PM, Kligfield P, Milner MR, Goldstein SA, Lindsay J Jr.  Heart rate adjustment of ST-segment depression for reduction of false positive electrocardiographic responses to exercise in asymptomatic men screened for coronary artery disease. Am J Cardiol. 1988; 62:1043-7. PubMed
 
Blumenthal RS, Becker DM, Moy TF, Coresh J, Wilder LB, Becker LC.  Exercise thallium tomography predicts future clinically manifest coronary heart disease in a high-risk asymptomatic population. Circulation. 1996; 93:915-23. PubMed
 
Gibbons LW, Mitchell TL, Wei M, Blair SN, Cooper KH.  Maximal exercise test as a predictor of risk for mortality from coronary heart disease in asymptomatic men. Am J Cardiol. 2000; 86:53-8. PubMed
 
Cole CR, Foody JM, Blackstone EH, Lauer MS.  Heart rate recovery after submaximal exercise testing as a predictor of mortality in a cardiovascularly healthy cohort. Ann Intern Med. 2000; 132:552-5. PubMed
 
Ekelund LG, Haskell WL, Johnson JL, Whaley FS, Criqui MH, Sheps DS.  Physical fitness as a predictor of cardiovascular mortality in asymptomatic North American men. The Lipid Research Clinics Mortality Follow-up Study. N Engl J Med. 1988; 319:1379-84. PubMed
 
Giagnoni E, Secchi MB, Wu SC, Morabito A, Oltrona L, Mancarella S, et al..  Prognostic value of exercise EKG testing in asymptomatic normotensive subjects. A prospective matched study. N Engl J Med. 1983; 309:1085-9. PubMed
 
Stason WB, Fineberg HV.  Implications of alternative strategies to diagnose coronary artery disease. Circulation. 1982; 66:III80-6. PubMed
 
Hollenberg M, Zoltick JM, Go M, Yaney SF, Daniels W, Davis RC Jr, et al..  Comparison of a quantitative treadmill exercise score with standard electrocardiographic criteria in screening asymptomatic young men for coronary artery disease. N Engl J Med. 1985; 313:600-6. PubMed
 
Okin PM, Grandits G, Rautaharju PM, Prineas RJ, Cohen JD, Crow RS, et al..  Prognostic value of heart rate adjustment of exercise-induced ST segment depression in the multiple risk factor intervention trial. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1996; 27:1437-43. PubMed
 
Okin PM, Anderson KM, Levy D, Kligfield P.  Heart rate adjustment of exercise-induced ST segment depression. Improved risk stratification in the Framingham Offspring Study. Circulation. 1991; 83:866-74. PubMed
 
Gordon DJ, Ekelund LG, Karon JM, Probstfield JL, Rubenstein C, Sheffield LT, et al..  Predictive value of the exercise tolerance test for mortality in North American men: the Lipid Research Clinics Mortality Follow-up Study. Circulation. 1986; 74:252-61. PubMed
 
Mora S, Redberg RF, Cui Y, Whiteman MK, Flaws JA, Sharrett AR, et al..  Ability of exercise testing to predict cardiovascular and all-cause death in asymptomatic women: a 20-year follow-up of the lipid research clinics prevalence study. JAMA. 2003; 290:1600-7. PubMed
 
Gulati M, Pandey DK, Arnsdorf MF, Lauderdale DS, Thisted RA, Wicklund RH, et al..  Exercise capacity and the risk of death in women: the St James Women Take Heart Project. Circulation. 2003; 108:1554-9. PubMed
 
Lauer MS, Okin PM, Larson MG, Evans JC, Levy D.  Impaired heart rate response to graded exercise. Prognostic implications of chronotropic incompetence in the Framingham Heart Study. Circulation. 1996; 93:1520-6. PubMed
 
Jouven X, Ducimetière P.  Recovery of heart rate after exercise [Letter]. N Engl J Med. 2000; 342:662-3. PubMed
 
Frolkis JP, Pothier CE, Blackstone EH, Lauer MS.  Frequent ventricular ectopy after exercise as a predictor of death. N Engl J Med. 2003; 348:781-90. PubMed
 
Morshedi-Meibodi A, Larson MG, Levy D, O'Donnell CJ, Vasan RS.  Heart rate recovery after treadmill exercise testing and risk of cardiovascular disease events (The Framingham Heart Study). Am J Cardiol. 2002; 90:848-52. PubMed
 
Wei M, Kampert JB, Barlow CE, Nichaman MZ, Gibbons LW, Paffenbarger RS Jr, et al..  Relationship between low cardiorespiratory fitness and mortality in normal-weight, overweight, and obese men. JAMA. 1999; 282:1547-53. PubMed
 
Blair SN, Kampert JB, Kohl HW 3rd, Barlow CE, Macera CA, Paffenbarger RS Jr, et al..  Influences of cardiorespiratory fitness and other precursors on cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality in men and women. JAMA. 1996; 276:205-10. PubMed
 
Rautaharju PM, Prineas RJ, Eifler WJ, Furberg CD, Neaton JD, Crow RS, et al..  Prognostic value of exercise electrocardiogram in men at high risk of future coronary heart disease: Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial experience. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1986; 8:1-10. PubMed
 
Allen WH, Aronow WS, Goodman P, Stinson P.  Five-year follow-up of maximal treadmill stress test in asymptomatic men and women. Circulation. 1980; 62:522-7. PubMed
 
Aronow WS, Allen WH, De Cristofaro D, Ungermann S.  Follow-up of mass screening for coronary risk factors in 1817 adults. Circulation. 1975; 51:1038-45. PubMed
 
Aronow WS, Allen WH, De Cristofaro D, Ungermann S, Wan MK, Chun GM, et al..  Mass screening for coronary risk factors in 2,524 asymptomatic adults. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1975; 23:121-6. PubMed
 
Cumming GR, Samm J, Borysyk L, Kich L.  Electrocardiographic changes during exercise in asymptomatic men: 3-year follow-up. Can Med Assoc J. 1975; 112:578-81. PubMed
 
Elamin MS, Boyle R, Kardash MM, Smith DR, Stoker JB, Whitaker W, et al..  Accurate detection of coronary heart disease by new exercise test. Br Heart J. 1982; 48:311-20. PubMed
 
Fadayomi MO, Akinroye KK.  Implications of positive treadmill exercise tests in asymptomatic adult African blacks. Eur Heart J. 1987; 8:611-7. PubMed
 
Froelicher VF Jr, Thomas MM, Pillow C, Lancaster MC.  Epidemiologic study of asymptomatic men screened by maximal treadmill testing for latent coronary artery disease. Am J Cardiol. 1974; 34:770-6. PubMed
 
Froelicher VF Jr, Thompson AJ, Wolthuis R, Fuchs R, Balusek R, Longo MR Jr, et al..  Angiographic findings in asymptomatic aircrewmen with electrocardiographic abnormalities. Am J Cardiol. 1977; 39:32-8. PubMed
 
Gerson MC, Khoury JC, Hertzberg VS, Fischer EE, Scott RC.  Prediction of coronary artery disease in a population of insulin-requiring diabetic patients: results of an 8-year follow-up study. Am Heart J. 1988; 116:820-6. PubMed
 
Gianrossi R, Detrano R, Mulvihill D, Lehmann K, Dubach P, Colombo A, et al..  Exercise-induced ST depression in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease. A meta-analysis. Circulation. 1989; 80:87-98. PubMed
 
Goodman S, Rubler S, Bryk H, Sklar B, Glasser L.  Arm exercise testing with myocardial scintigraphy in asymptomatic patients with peripheral vascular disease. Chest. 1989; 95:740-6. PubMed
 
Gupta R, Gupta S.  Value of maximal treadmill exercise test to screen asymptomatic persons for coronary artery disease. J Assoc Physicians India. 1983; 31:783-5. PubMed
 
Hopkirk JA, Uhl GS, Hickman JR Jr, Fischer J, Medina A.  Discriminant value of clinical and exercise variables in detecting significant coronary artery disease in asymptomatic men. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1984; 3:887-94. PubMed
 
MacIntyre NR, Kunkler JR, Mitchell RE, Oberman A, Graybiel A.  Eight-year follow-up of exercise electrocardiograms in healthy, middle-aged aviators. Aviat Space Environ Med. 1981; 52:256-9. PubMed
 
Manca C, Barilli AL, Dei Cas L, Bernardini B, Bolognesi R, Visioli O.  Multivariate analysis of exercise ST depression and coronary risk factors in asymptomatic men. Eur Heart J. 1982; 3:2-8. PubMed
 
Mark DB, Hlatky MA, Califf RM, Morris JJ Jr, Sisson SD, McCants CB, et al..  Painless exercise ST deviation on the treadmill: long-term prognosis. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1989; 14:885-92. PubMed
 
McHenry PL, O'Donnell J, Morris SN, Jordan JJ.  The abnormal exercise electrocardiogram in apparently healthy men: a predictor of angina pectoris as an initial coronary event during long-term follow-up. Circulation. 1984; 70:547-51. PubMed
 
Melin JA, Piret LJ, Vanbutsele RJ, Rousseau MF, Cosyns J, Brasseur LA, et al..  Diagnostic value of exercise electrocardiography and thallium myocardial scintigraphy in patients without previous myocardial infarction: a Bayesian approach. Circulation. 1981; 63:1019-24. PubMed
 
Pedersen F, Sandoe E, Laerkeborg A.  Prevalence and significance of an abnormal exercise ECG in asymptomatic males. Outcome of thallium myocardial scintigraphy. Eur Heart J. 1991; 12:766-9. PubMed
 
Roger VL, Jacobsen SJ, Pellikka PA, Miller TD, Bailey KR, Gersh BJ.  Prognostic value of treadmill exercise testing: a population-based study in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Circulation. 1998; 98:2836-41. PubMed
 
Rubler S, Gerber D, Reitano J, Chokshi V, Fisher VJ.  Predictive value of clinical and exercise variables for detection of coronary artery disease in men with diabetes mellitus. Am J Cardiol. 1987; 59:1310-3. PubMed
 
Selvester RH, Ahmed J, Tolan GD.  Asymptomatic coronary artery disease detection: update 1996. A screening protocol using 16-lead high-resolution ECG, ultrafast CT, exercise testing, and radionuclear imaging. J Electrocardiol. 1996; 29:suppl135-44. PubMed
 
Tubau JF, Szlachcic J, Hollenberg M, Massie BM.  Usefulness of thallium-201 scintigraphy in predicting the development of angina pectoris in hypertensive patients with left ventricular hypertrophy. Am J Cardiol. 1989; 64:45-9. PubMed
 
Uhl GS, Kay TN, Hickman JR Jr.  Computer-enhanced thallium scintigrams in asymptomatic men with abnormal exercise tests. Am J Cardiol. 1981; 48:1037-43. PubMed
 
Koistinen MJ, Huikuri HV, Pirttiaho H, Linnaluoto MK, Takkunen JT.  Evaluation of exercise electrocardiography and thallium tomographic imaging in detecting asymptomatic coronary artery disease in diabetic patients. Br Heart J. 1990; 63:7-11. PubMed
 
Salzmann P, Kerlikowske K, Phillips K.  Cost-effectiveness of extending screening mammography guidelines to include women 40 to 49 years of age. Ann Intern Med. 1997; 127:955-65. PubMed
 
Conti CR, Bourassa MG, Chaitman BR, Geller NL, Knatterud GL, Pepine CJ, et al..  Asymptomatic cardiac ischemia pilot (ACIP). Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 1994; 106:77-83. PubMed
 
Coplan NL, Fuster V.  Limitations of the exercise test as a screen for acute cardiac events in asymptomatic patients. Am Heart J. 1990; 119:987-90. PubMed
 
Ashley EA, Myers J, Froelicher V.  Exercise testing in clinical medicine. Lancet. 2000; 356:1592-7. PubMed
 
Bashore TM, Bates ER, Berger PB, Clark DA, Cusma JT, Dehmer GJ, et al..  American College of Cardiology/Society for Cardiac Angiography and Interventions Clinical Expert Consensus Document on cardiac catheterization laboratory standards. A report of the American College of Cardiology Task Force on Clinical Expert Consensus Documents. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2001; 37:2170-214. PubMed
 

Figures

Tables

Table Jump PlaceholderTable 2.  Studies of the Use of Exercise Electrocardiography To Detect Asymptomatic Prevalent Coronary Heart Disease
Table Jump PlaceholderTable 3.  Association between Abnormal ST-Segment Response to Exercise and Coronary Heart Disease Events in Asymptomatic Persons
Table Jump PlaceholderTable 4.  Association between Exercise Predictors and Coronary Heart Disease Events in Asymptomatic Persons

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Siscovick DS, Ekelund LG, Johnson JL, Truong Y, Adler A.  Sensitivity of exercise electrocardiography for acute cardiac events during moderate and strenuous physical activity. The Lipid Research Clinics Coronary Primary Prevention Trial. Arch Intern Med. 1991; 151:325-30. PubMed
 
Rutter MK, Wahid ST, McComb JM, Marshall SM.  Significance of silent ischemia and microalbuminuria in predicting coronary events in asymptomatic patients with type 2 diabetes. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2002; 40:56-61. PubMed
 
Boyle RM, Adlakha HL, Mary DA.  Diagnostic value of the maximal ST segment/heart rate slope in asymptomatic factory populations. J Electrocardiol. 1987; 20:suppl128-34. PubMed
 
Koistinen MJ.  Prevalence of asymptomatic myocardial ischaemia in diabetic subjects. BMJ. 1990; 301:92-5. PubMed
 
Piepgrass SR, Uhl GS, Hickman JR Jr, Hopkirk JA, Plowman K.  Limitations of the exercise stress test in the detection of coronary artery disease in apparently healthy men. Aviat Space Environ Med. 1982; 53:379-82. PubMed
 
Blumenthal RS, Becker DM, Yanek LR, Aversano TR, Moy TF, Kral BG, et al..  Detecting occult coronary disease in a high-risk asymptomatic population. Circulation. 2003; 107:702-7. PubMed
 
Massie BM, Szlachcic Y, Tubau JF, O'Kelly BF, Ammon S, Chin W.  Scintigraphic and electrocardiographic evidence of silent coronary artery disease in asymptomatic hypertension: a case-control study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1993; 22:1598-606. PubMed
 
Fleg JL, Gerstenblith G, Zonderman AB, Becker LC, Weisfeldt ML, Costa PT Jr, et al..  Prevalence and prognostic significance of exercise-induced silent myocardial ischemia detected by thallium scintigraphy and electrocardiography in asymptomatic volunteers. Circulation. 1990; 81:428-36. PubMed
 
Laukkanen JA, Kurl S, Lakka TA, Tuomainen TP, Rauramaa R, Salonen R, et al..  Exercise-induced silent myocardial ischemia and coronary morbidity and mortality in middle-aged men. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2001; 38:72-9. PubMed
 
Rywik TM, O'Connor FC, Gittings NS, Wright JG, Khan AA, Fleg JL.  Role of nondiagnostic exercise-induced ST-segment abnormalities in predicting future coronary events in asymptomatic volunteers. Circulation. 2002; 106:2787-92. PubMed
 
Livschitz S, Sharabi Y, Yushin J, Bar-On Z, Chouraqui P, Burstein M, et al..  Limited clinical value of exercise stress test for the screening of coronary artery disease in young, asymptomatic adult men. Am J Cardiol. 2000; 86:462-4. PubMed
 
Davies B, Ashton WD, Rowlands DJ, El-Sayed M, Wallace PC, Duckett K, et al..  Association of conventional and exertional coronary heart disease risk factors in 5,000 apparently healthy men. Clin Cardiol. 1996; 19:303-8. PubMed
 
Sox HC Jr, Littenberg B, Garber AM.  The role of exercise testing in screening for coronary artery disease. Ann Intern Med. 1989; 110:456-69. PubMed
 
Cameron JD, Jennings GL, Kay S, Wahi S, Bennett KE, Reid C, et al..  A self-administered questionnaire for detection of unrecognised coronary heart disease. Aust N Z J Public Health. 1997; 21:545-7. PubMed
 
Ekelund LG, Suchindran CM, McMahon RP, Heiss G, Leon AS, Romhilt DW, et al..  Coronary heart disease morbidity and mortality in hypercholesterolemic men predicted from an exercise test: the Lipid Research Clinics Coronary Primary Prevention Trial. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1989; 14:556-63. PubMed
 
Caralis DG, Bailey I, Kennedy HL, Pitt B.  Thallium-201 myocardial imaging in evaluation of asymptomatic individuals with ischaemic ST segment depression on exercise electrocardiogram. Br Heart J. 1979; 42:562-7. PubMed
 
Pilote L, Pashkow F, Thomas JD, Snader CE, Harvey SA, Marwick TH, et al..  Clinical yield and cost of exercise treadmill testing to screen for coronary artery disease in asymptomatic adults. Am J Cardiol. 1998; 81:219-24. PubMed
 
Katzel LI, Sorkin JD, Goldberg AP.  Exercise-induced silent myocardial ischemia and future cardiac events in healthy, sedentary, middle-aged and older men. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1999; 47:923-9. PubMed
 
Dunn RL, Matzen RN, VanderBrug-Medendorp S.  Screening for the detection of coronary artery disease by using the exercise tolerance test in a preventive medicine population. Am J Prev Med. 1991; 7:255-62. PubMed
 
Okin PM, Kligfield P, Milner MR, Goldstein SA, Lindsay J Jr.  Heart rate adjustment of ST-segment depression for reduction of false positive electrocardiographic responses to exercise in asymptomatic men screened for coronary artery disease. Am J Cardiol. 1988; 62:1043-7. PubMed
 
Blumenthal RS, Becker DM, Moy TF, Coresh J, Wilder LB, Becker LC.  Exercise thallium tomography predicts future clinically manifest coronary heart disease in a high-risk asymptomatic population. Circulation. 1996; 93:915-23. PubMed
 
Gibbons LW, Mitchell TL, Wei M, Blair SN, Cooper KH.  Maximal exercise test as a predictor of risk for mortality from coronary heart disease in asymptomatic men. Am J Cardiol. 2000; 86:53-8. PubMed
 
Cole CR, Foody JM, Blackstone EH, Lauer MS.  Heart rate recovery after submaximal exercise testing as a predictor of mortality in a cardiovascularly healthy cohort. Ann Intern Med. 2000; 132:552-5. PubMed
 
Ekelund LG, Haskell WL, Johnson JL, Whaley FS, Criqui MH, Sheps DS.  Physical fitness as a predictor of cardiovascular mortality in asymptomatic North American men. The Lipid Research Clinics Mortality Follow-up Study. N Engl J Med. 1988; 319:1379-84. PubMed
 
Giagnoni E, Secchi MB, Wu SC, Morabito A, Oltrona L, Mancarella S, et al..  Prognostic value of exercise EKG testing in asymptomatic normotensive subjects. A prospective matched study. N Engl J Med. 1983; 309:1085-9. PubMed
 
Stason WB, Fineberg HV.  Implications of alternative strategies to diagnose coronary artery disease. Circulation. 1982; 66:III80-6. PubMed
 
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Summary for Patients

Screening for Coronary Heart Disease: Recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

The summary below is from the full reports titled “Screening for Coronary Heart Disease: Recommendation Statement” and “Exercise Tolerance Testing To Screen for Coronary Heart Disease: A Systematic Review for the Technical Support for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.” The first report is in the 6 April 2004 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 140, pages 569-572); the second report is available at http://www.annals.org(volume 140, pages W-9-W-24). The first report was written by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force; the second report was written by A. Fowler-Brown, M. Pignone, M. Pletcher, J.A. Tice, S.F. Sutton, and K.N. Lohr.

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