2 Key Tests After a Heart Attack
Tests May Predict Death, Cardiac Arrest in Heart Attack Survivors
Dec. 3, 2007 -- Canadian scientists today reported that two tests may help
predict heart-related death or cardiac arrest after a heart
The tests don't require surgery or other invasive methods. Instead, the
patient simply gets a special EKG
One test checks the heart's nervous system. The other test checks the
heart's electrical system.
Combining the results of both tests, given 10-14 weeks after a heart attack,
was the study's best predictor of heart-related death or cardiac arrest
The study included 322 Canadian heart attack survivors who were in their
early 60s, on average. Their hearts showed a weakened ability to pump
The patients took both tests twice. They were first tested two to four weeks
after their heart attack. They were retested 10 to 14 weeks after their heart
One of the EKG tests took about half an hour. The other test took all day,
but patients didn't have to spend that time in the doctor's office; the EKG
kept tabs on them for 18-24 hours.
The patients were followed for nearly four years. During that time, 30
patients died (including 22 who died of heart problems). Seven others had to be
resuscitated when their hearts stopped (cardiac arrest).
Those patients tended to have poor scores on both tests 10-14 weeks after
their heart attack.
At that point, one out of five patients had abnormal scores on both tests,
with hearts that were still weak. Compared to other patients, they were six
times more likely to suffer a heart-related death or a cardiac arrest during
The researchers -- who included Dexter Exner, MD, MPH, of Canada's
University of Calgary -- report their findings in the Dec. 11 edition of the
Journal of the American College of Cardiology.