Prognostic Importance of Myocardial Ischemia Detected by Ambulatory Monitoring Early after Acute Myocardial Infarction
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BACKGROUND: After an acute myocardial infarction, it is important to determine the risk of a subsequent coronary event. We studied the prognostic value of myocardial ischemia detected by ambulatory electrocardiographic (ECG) monitoring in patients who had recently had an acute myocardial infarction. METHODS: Five to seven days after acute myocardial infarction, 406 patients underwent 48-hour ambulatory ECG monitoring, with submaximal exercise testing before discharge and measurement of the left ventricular ejection fraction within 28 days after infarction. Death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, and admission to the hospital because of unstable angina were the principal end points recorded during the one-year follow-up period. RESULTS: The overall incidence of myocardial ischemia detected by ambulatory ECG monitoring was 23.4 percent. The mortality rates at one year were 11.6 percent among the patients with ischemia and 3.9 percent among those without ischemia (P = 0.009); 3.9 percent among the patients with a positive exercise test, 3.0 percent among those with a negative exercise test, and 16.4 percent among those in whom an exercise test was not performed (P < 0.001); and 3.6 percent among the patients with an ejection fraction greater than 50 percent, 3.5 percent among those with an ejection fraction between 35 and 50 percent, and 18.2 percent among those with an ejection fraction below 35 percent (P = 0.001). Using multiple logistic regression, we found that no diagnostic test performed after myocardial infarction provided additional prognostic information beyond that provided by the standard clinical variables used to predict the risk of death. When nonfatal myocardial infarction and admission to the hospital because of unstable angina were also included as outcome variables, ambulatory monitoring for ischemia was the only test that contributed significantly to the model. For the patients with ischemia detected by ambulatory monitoring, as compared with those who did not have evidence of ischemia, the odds ratio was 2.3 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.2 to 4.5) for death or nonfatal myocardial infarction (P = 0.009) and 2.8 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.6 to 4.8) for death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, or admission to the hospital because of unstable angina (P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Myocardial ischemia detected by ambulatory ECG monitoring is common early after acute myocardial infarction and provides prognostic information beyond that available from standard clinical information.