Asymptomatic ST-segment depression during exercise testing and the risk of sudden cardiac death in middle-aged men: a population-based follow-up study

Eur Heart J. 2009 Mar;30(5):558-65. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehn584. Epub 2009 Jan 23.


Aims: Silent electrocardiographic ST change predicts future coronary events in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD), but the prognostic significance of asymptomatic ST-segment depression with respect to sudden cardiac death in subjects without apparent CHD is not well known.

Methods and results: We investigated the association between silent ST-segment depression during and after maximal symptom-limited exercise test and the risk of sudden cardiac death in a population-based sample of 1769 men without evident CHD. A total of 72 sudden cardiac death occurred during the median follow-up of 18 years. The risk of sudden cardiac death was increased among men with asymptomatic ST-segment depression during exercise [hazard ratio (HR) 2.1, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2-3.9] as well as among those with asymptomatic ST-segment depression during recovery period (HR 3.2, 95% CI 1.7-6.0). Asymptomatic ST-depression during exercise testing was a stronger predictor for the risk of sudden cardiac death especially among smokers as well as in hypercholesterolaemic and hypertensive men than in men without these risk factors.

Conclusion: Asymptomatic ST-segment depression was a very strong predictor of sudden cardiac death in men with any conventional risk factor but no previously diagnosed CHD, emphasizing the value of exercise testing to identify asymptomatic high-risk men who could benefit from preventive measures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / epidemiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Electrocardiography
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology