Prognostic importance of presenting symptoms in patients undergoing exercise testing for evaluation of known or suspected coronary disease

Am J Med. 2004 Sep 15;117(6):380-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2004.06.004.


Purpose: Chest symptoms, along with standard cardiovascular risk factors, are commonly factored into pretest risk stratification of patients who are referred for stress testing. We sought to determine the independent prognostic value of chest symptoms.

Methods: We studied the outcomes of 10,870 patients referred for symptom-limited exercise testing who had no history of myocardial revascularization, heart failure, or arrhythmias. Chest symptoms were prospectively characterized according to prespecified definitions. Propensity analysis was used to account for differences in baseline and exercise characteristics.

Results: Typical angina was present in 635 patients (6%), atypical angina in 3408 (33%), nonanginal chest pain in 1805 (17%), and dyspnea in 841 (8%). The remaining 4181 patients (38%) were asymptomatic. During a mean follow-up of 4.3 years, there were 381 deaths. After propensity matching patients who had typical angina with asymptomatic patients, symptoms were not predictive of mortality (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] = 0.8; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.6 to 1.3; P = 0.4). Among patients who had chest pain, typical angina was associated with a highly significant risk of mortality as compared with nonanginal chest pain (HR = 2.7; 95% CI: 1.4 to 5.1; P = 0.002), but not compared with atypical angina (HR = 1.3; 95% CI: 0.9 to 2.1; P = 0.21).

Conclusion: After accounting for baseline and exercise characteristics, the presence of symptoms was not independently associated with increased mortality among patients undergoing testing for known or suspected coronary disease. Among patients who actually had chest pain, typical angina carried a higher mortality risk.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Angina Pectoris / diagnosis
  • Angina Pectoris / etiology
  • Angina Pectoris / mortality
  • Chest Pain / diagnosis
  • Chest Pain / etiology
  • Chest Pain / mortality
  • Coronary Disease / classification
  • Coronary Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Disease / mortality
  • Exercise Test*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ohio / epidemiology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Survival Analysis