Objectives: The goal of this study was to determine the value of thallium201 single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging for prediction of all-cause mortality when considered along with functional capacity and heart rate recovery.
Background: Myocardial perfusion defects identified by thallium201 SPECT imaging are predictive of cardiac events. Functional capacity and heart rate recovery are exercise measures that also have prognostic implications.
Methods: We followed 7,163 consecutive adults referred for symptom-limited exercise thallium SPECT (mean age 60 +/- 10, 25% women) for 6.7 years. Using information theory, we identified a probable best model relating nuclear findings to outcome to calculate a prognostic nuclear score.
Results: There were 855 deaths. Intermediate- and high-risk prognostic nuclear scores were noted in 28% and 10% of patients. Compared with those with low-risk scans, patients with an intermediate-risk score were at increased risk for death (14% vs. 9%, hazard ratio: 1.67, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.44 to 1.95, p < 0.0001), while those with high-risk scores were at greater risk (24%, hazard ratio: 2.98, 95% CI: 2.49 to 3.56, p < 0.0001). In multivariable analyses that adjusted for clinical characteristics, functional capacity and heart rate recovery, an intermediate-risk nuclear score remained predictive of death (adjusted hazard ratio: 1.50, 95% CI: 1.28 to 1.76, p < 0.0001), as did a high-risk score (adjusted hazard ratio: 2.76, 95% CI: 2.13 to 2.56, p < 0.0001). Impaired functional capacity and decreased heart rate recovery provided additional prognostic information.
Conclusions: Myocardial perfusion defects detected by thallium SPECT imaging are independently predictive of long-term all-cause death, even after accounting for exercise capacity, heart rate recovery and other potential confounders.