Clinical and angiographic significance of a normal thallium-201 tomographic study in patients with a strongly positive exercise electrocardiogram
Among 23,059 patients who underwent exercise myocardial tomography between 1985 and 1994 at our institution, there were 817 (3.5%) with a strongly positive exercise electrocardiogram and normal myocardial tomograms. Among these, 52 patients had no conditions known to be associated with a false-positive exercise electrocardiogram and no previous coronary revascularization, and underwent coronary angiography. Of the 32 patients with significant coronary stenoses, 50% had 1-vessel disease and only 22% had 3-vessel disease (p < 0.05). Among 55 stenosed arteries, 56% were of moderate severity (50 to 74%), whereas only 9% had subtotal or total occlusion (95 to 100%) (p < 0.001). There was a significant gender difference in the prevalence of significant coronary stenoses (80% in male vs 24% in female patients, p < 0.0001). A strongly positive exercise electrocardiogram coupled with normal exercise myocardial tomograms is a rare clinical finding. In women, this finding is usually associated with normal coronary arteries, whereas in men it often denotes coronary artery disease, usually of mild to moderate degree.