Background: The incremental value of exercise echocardiography (EE) has been demonstrated to be maximal in patients with moderate pretest probability for coronary artery disease, but there is a lack of data in patients with low pretest probability or patients with good functional capacity.
Methods: To investigate whether such incremental value is maintained in patients with excellent exercise capacity, we studied 1,433 patients who had excellent exercise capacity (>or=8 METs for women, >or=10 METs for men).
Results: During a follow-up of 2.3 +/- 1.5 years, 42 hard events occurred (cardiac death or nonfatal myocardial infarction). Variables independently associated to hard events were male gender (P = 0.04), % of the age-predicted maximum heart rate (P = 0.02), chronotropic reserve (P = 0.002), and abnormal EE (P = 0.03; incremental P value of EE = 0.03).
Conclusions: EE has incremental value over clinical variables, resting echocardiography, and exercise testing variables in patients with excellent exercise capacity. EE may be preferable to ECG exercise testing even in patients expected to have good exercise capacity.