Combined rest and exercise electrocardiographic repolarization findings in relation to structural and functional abnormalities in asymptomatic aortic regurgitation
The relationship of combined rest and exercise electrocardiographic (ECG) repolarization abnormalities to left ventricular geometry and function was examined in 48 patients with asymptomatic chronic pure aortic regurgitation and no recent use of digitalis. Echocardiographic and radionuclide cineangiographic findings were compared in groups defined by the presence or absence of the "strain" pattern of repolarization abnormality on the resting ECG and also by the presence or absence of standard positive repolarization changes during upright treadmill exercise ( > 0.1 mV additional horizontal or downsloping ST depression). These hierarchic groups demonstrated trends toward progressively abnormal left ventricular dimensions, mass, wall stress, and change in ejection fraction with exercise. Although the presence of the strain pattern on the resting ECG alone was most strongly correlated with underlying functional and geometric abnormalities, an abnormal exercise test response was independently associated with abnormal left ventricular systolic dimension. The large group of patients with no symptoms and normal resting repolarization had only 0% to 4% prevalences of markedly increased systolic dimension (> 55 mm), reduced ejection fraction at rest (< 45%), or reduced ejection fraction during exercise (< 40%), whereas the small group of patients with abnormal resting repolarization and a positive exercise test response had 50% to 83% prevalences of these findings. These data suggest a possible role for rest and exercise ECG in the serial evaluation of patients with aortic regurgitation.