Mechanism and significance of a decrease in ejection fraction during exercise in patients with coronary artery disease and left ventricular dysfunction at rest.
The purpose of this study was to determine whether an exercise-induced decrease in ejection fraction in patients with coronary artery disease and left ventricular dysfunction at rest represents ischemia or the nonspecific response of a compromised left ventricle to exercise stress. Accordingly, radionuclide ejection fraction responses of 246 patients with coronary artery disease and an ejection fraction at rest of less than 0.50 were compared with those of a "nonischemic" control group of 48 patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy and a similar degree of ventricular dysfunction. The significance of the ejection fraction response in the group with coronary artery disease was further examined by relating it to the angiographic extent of coronary artery disease, severity of angina, incidence of chest pain and electrocardiographic ST segment depression during exercise and long-term prognosis. The ejection fraction decreased by greater than or equal to 0.01 and greater than or equal to 0.05 during exercise in 48 and 28%, respectively, of the patients with coronary artery disease compared with only 8 and 2%, respectively, of the patients with cardiomyopathy. When exercise was limited by fatigue at a submaximal heart rate, the ejection fraction decreased in 25% of the patients with coronary artery disease but in none of the patients with cardiomyopathy. Patients with coronary artery disease whose ejection fraction decreased during exercise had a significantly higher incidence of three vessel disease, exercise-induced chest pain or ST depression and late mortality than did patients whose ejection fraction did not decrease. These relations were confirmed equally in subgroups of patients with moderate (ejection fraction 0.30 to 0.49) and severe (ejection fraction less than 0.30) left ventricular dysfunction. Thus, in patients with coronary artery disease and left ventricular dysfunction at rest, a decrease in ejection fraction during exercise is more likely to indicate ischemia than a nonspecific left ventricular response to exercise stress. In the individual patient, a decrease of 0.05 or greater, or a decrease during submaximal exercise, appears to be highly specific for ischemia. A decrease in ejection fraction identifies a subgroup of patients with a high prevalence of multivessel coronary artery disease and a high risk of death during long-term follow-up on medical therapy.
Higginbotham, MB; Coleman, RE; Jones, RH; Cobb, FR
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