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Stress echo tests shown to predict cardiac death, illness in higher-risk women

ST. LOUIS New research from Saint Louis University School of Medicine may give doctors a way to predict life-threatening heart problems in women.

The team studied 421 diabetic women between 49 and 75 who underwent a certain type of stress test for suspected coronary disease. Investigators concluded that the test, known as dobutamine stress echocardiography, provided valuable information that could help doctors predict future fatal heart problems.

"Our research is extremely important because women in this age group are historically underdiagnosed, and by detecting problems earlier, we can help prevent heart attack or death and extend these women's lives," says Melda S. Dolan, M.D., associate professor in the division of cardiology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

Dolan will present two papers during the annual American Heart Association meeting in Dallas on Wednesday. Both papers explore the role of the stress tests in detecting heart disease.

Dobutamine stress echocardiography tests are ultrasound heart scans in which patients are injected with a drug that makes the heart beat faster to determine if they have abnormalities of the heart wall. No exercise is involved. Traditional echocardiography tests are performed without the aid of drugs by having patients run on a treadmill to increase their heart rate.

"Women with diabetes and other clinical risk factors, such as smoking, obesity and a family history, are more likely to have heart disease or die from it," says Dolan. "Dobutamine stress echo tests serve an important role in predicting heart attacks or cardiac death in these higher-risk women."

After two years, the team followed up with the patients and found that 23 had died from cardiac events and 54 had experienced heart attack. While history of congestive heart failure and previous heart attacks were clinical predictors in those cases, the dobutamine stress echo tests were also beneficial in predict
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Contact: Rachel Otto
ottorl@slu.edu
314-977-8018
Saint Louis University
15-Nov-2005


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