Gender differences in use of stress testing and coronary heart disease mortality: A population-based study in Olmsted County, Minnesota

Veronique L. Roger, Steven J. Jacobsen, Patricia A. Pellikka, Todd D. Miller, Kent R. Bailey, Bernard J. Gersh

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Objectives. We sought to examine the utilization of exercise stress testing in relation to age and gender in a population-based setting. Background. The utilization of noninvasive procedures has been shown to be associated with the subsequent use of invasive procedures. Yet, there are no population-based data on the utilization of stress testing; in particular, although gender differences in the use of invasive procedures have been reported, the use of noninvasive procedures has not been examined in relation to gender. Methods. In Olmsted County, Minnesota, passive surveillance of the medical care of the community is provided through the Rochester Epidemiology Project. A population-based cohort of Olmsted County residents undergoing exercise tests was identified. The medical records of residents with prevalent and incident exercise tests in 1987 and 1988 were reviewed. For persons with an initial test (incidence cohort), data on clinical presentation, test indications and results were abstracted. Stress test utilization rates were calculated, and crude rates were directly adjusted to the age distribution of the 1980 U.S. population. To help interpret patterns of use at the population level, coronary heart disease mortality rates (International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision, codes 410 to 414) were calculated (crude and directly adjusted to the overall age distribution of the 1980 U.S. population) and used as an indicator of coronary disease burden. Results. A total of 2,624 tests were performed. The crude utilization rate (per 100,000) was 1,888 for men and 703 for women (rate ratio for men over women 2.7, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.5 to 2.9); it remained significantly higher in men across all age strata. The crude incidence rate (per 100,000) of initial stress tests was 1,112 for men and 517 for women (rate ratio 2.2, 95% CI 1.9 to 2.4). For both men and women, the incidence increased with age; however, incidence remained lower in women in all age strata. At the time that they underwent an initial test, women were more symptomatic and had poorer exercise performance than men. The rate ratio of men over women for coronary heart disease mortality was 1.1 (95% CI 0.9 to 1.2). The age-adjusted rate ratios for stress test utilization were 2.8 (95% CI 2.5 to 3.0), and that for coronary heart disease mortality was 1.9 (95% CI 1.7 to 2.2). Conclusions. These population-based data show that during the study period, the utilization of stress testing in Olmsted County was lower in women than in men. Women in the incidence cohort were older and more symptomatic and had poorer exercise performance than men. Such differences should be considered when examining the utilization of subsequent invasive procedures according to gender.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-352
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 1998


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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