Background: Combining vasodilator and exercise stress reduces noncardiac side effects, improves image quality, and enhances the detection of ischemia, compared with suboptimal exercise or vasodilator stress alone. However, prognostic data with combined protocols are limited.
Methods and results: Consecutive patients (n = 2064) who underwent symptom-limited exercise and dipyridamole stress with gated single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging, without early revascularization, were studied. Subsequent cardiac death or nonfatal myocardial infarction was related to exercise and gated SPECT variables. Cox proportional hazards regression modeling was performed to identify predictors of adverse outcome. Annualized event rates in patients with normal and abnormal images were 0.96% and 2.71%, respectively (P < .001). With abnormal imaging, annualized event rates were 0.86% and 3.13% in patients with average to high and fair or poor functional capacity, respectively (P = .019). Abnormal imaging, a severely reduced post-stress ejection fraction, transient ischemic dilation, and fair or poor functional capacity emerged as predictors of adverse outcome. Accordingly, patients were stratified into low-risk, intermediate-risk, and high-risk cohorts with annualized event rates of 0.94%, 2.24%, and 8.19%, respectively (P < .001 in any two-way comparison).
Conclusions: A protocol that combines symptom-limited exercise and dipyridamole stress with gated SPECT imaging provides highly effective risk stratification for adverse outcomes.