Objectives: Our aim was to determine the applicability, safety and prognostic value of adenosine and dobutamine stress echocardiography in patients > or = 70 years old.
Background: These tests are sometimes mandatory because of difficulties and inaccuracies in interpreting traditional electrocardiographic stress tests. Furthermore, if these tests could be used to avoid coronary arteriography and cardiac catheterization, they would become essential in the care of the elderly, whose numbers are increasing.
Methods: We performed coronary arteriography and dobutamine and adenosine stress echocardiographic tests in 120 patients (72 men) > or = 70 years old who entered the hospital because of chest pain and had known or suspected coronary artery disease. The stress tests were performed on separate days, within 2 weeks of coronary arteriography. Both the arteriograms and the echocardiograms were analyzed by two experts who had no knowledge of the patients' other data or the other interpreter's report. Tests were judged to have positive or negative results, and the patients were followed up for the development of cardiac events. Univariate and multivariate analyses and other statistical modalities were applied for comparisons.
Results: Documented coronary artery disease was found in 89 patients. During the 14 +/- 7 of follow-up, cardiac events developed in 50 patients, including 3 (7.9%) of 38 patients with negative dobutamine and 12 (20.7%) of 58 patients with negative adenosine test results. Demonstration of any abnormality on stress echocardiography was an independent factor for cardiac events, both for dobutamine (relative risk 7.3) and for adenosine (relative risk 3.0). Both cessation of dobutamine or adenosine tests and diagnosis of disease in two or more coronary vessels were also independent predictors. ST segment depression > or = 1mm was related to future events only with the dobutamine test.
Conclusions: These echocardiographic stress tests proved safe and well tolerated. They successfully stratified this cohort of elderly patients with coronary artery disease to low or high risk subgroups for subsequent cardiac events.