Bayesian analysis of electrocardiographic exercise stress testing

N Engl J Med. 1977 Sep 29;297(13):681-6. doi: 10.1056/NEJM197709292971301.


We evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of exercise-induced ST-segment depression in detecting coronary-artery disease by applying the likelihood-ratio formulation of Bayes's theorem to stress-test data, which were partitioned into half-millimeter ranges of depression. The graphic relation between the predictive value of a given test result and the pretest risk of disease in the test subjects was obtained for each of these half-millimeter intervals. This method reveals that the predictive value of testing depends on the degree of ST-segment depression, and that the pretest risk of coronary-artery disease is an important determinant of the predictive value of any test result in the individual patient. These findings suggest that the use of the terms "positive" and "negative" are inappropriate to describe most stress-test results. Instead, the results should be interpreted in terms of a continuum of risk based on the extent of ST-segment depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bayes Theorem*
  • Coronary Disease / diagnosis
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Exercise Test*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Probability*