Purpose: Characterization of left ventricular function is important in managing patients with coronary artery disease. Although many methods are available to assess left ventricular function, most are either expensive, invasive, or both. In this study, we examined the ability of normal or near-normal resting electrocardiographic findings to predict resting left ventricular ejection fraction, measured by resting radionuclide angiography, in 874 patients with chest pain and suspected coronary artery disease.
Patients and methods: A retrospective review was undertaken of 4,410 Mayo Clinic patients who underwent rest and exercise radionuclide ventriculography for the evaluation of chest pain and known or suspected coronary artery disease; of these, 874 patients met the inclusion criteria for the current study. A 15-lead electrocardiogram, which was interpreted by the cardiologist or cardiology trainee working in the laboratory, was obtained at the same evaluation as the radionuclide study.
Results: In 590 patients with no previous history of a myocardial infarction and entirely normal resting electrocardiographic results without nonspecific ST-T wave abnormalities, the mean left ventricular ejection fraction was 0.63 +/- 0.004, and 559 patients (95%) had a normal resting ejection fraction (defined as 0.50 or more). Both nonspecific ST-T wave abnormalities (p less than 0.001) and, to a lesser degree, a history of myocardial infarction (p = 0.06) were independent predictors of an abnormal resting ejection fraction. In 185 patients with nonspecific ST-T wave abnormalities and no history of myocardial infarction, the mean left ventricular ejection fraction was 0.61 +/- 0.009, and 85% had a normal resting ejection fraction. In 36 patients with nonspecific ST-T wave abnormalities and a history of myocardial infarction, the mean left ventricular ejection fraction was 0.53 +/- 0.021, and 72% had a normal resting ejection fraction.
Conclusion: Thus, an entirely normal result on a resting 12-lead electrocardiogram in patients with suspected coronary disease but no history of a previous myocardial infarction is a reliable (95%) predictor of normal left ventricular function. If nonspecific ST-T wave abnormalities are noted, particularly if there is a history of a previous infarction, the predictive value of the electrocardiographic findings is diminished.