Objective: To characterize prognostic implications of exercise echocardiography in patients who have reduced exercise capacity at the of testing. Patients and Methods: We examined the outcomes of 941 patients at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn, between January 1, 1990, and December 31, 1995, who had reduced exercise capacity on exercise echocardiography (women, <5 metabolic equivalents; men, <7 metabolic equivalents) and evaluated the potential association between clinical, electrocardiographic, and echocardiographic variables and outcomes for patients with normal vs abnormal exercise echocardiograms. We used variables of independent prognostic value to estimate cardiac risk. Results: For patients with normal exercise echocardiograms (n=282), the rate of cardiac death or nonfatal myocardial infarction was 0.9% per person-year of follow-up, and previous coronary revascularization was the only predictor of the time to cardiac event. For patients with abnormal exercise echocardiograms (n=659), the cardiac event rate was 4.4%. Independent predictors of outcome were exercise left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction (risk ratio, 1.44 per 10% decrement; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-1.7; P<.001) and an increase or no change in LV end-systolic size in response to exercise (risk ratio, 2.22; 95% confidence interval, 1.2.41; P=.01). Conclusion: Exercise echocardiographic findings have important prognostic implications for patients who have reduced exercise capacity on testing. Echocardiographic descriptors of LV systolle function and dysfunction obtained immediately after exercise can he used to stratify cardiac risk of patents who do not achieve a level of exercise ordinarily considered to he of "diagnostic" value.
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