The stress tests showed that a fifth of the patients had silent myocardial ischemia. Translation: Those patients had no heart disease symptoms, but their heart muscle didn't get enough oxygen during the stress test.
The patients and their doctors were free to pick any ischemia treatment.
None of the patients got surgery, but they tended to start taking at least one of the following medications:
- Statin drugs, which lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol
- ACE inhibitors, which lower blood pressure
Three years after their initial stress test, the patients repeated the stress test.
The researchers expected that the patients' ischemia would have worsened. But they were wrong.
Of the 71 patients who had ischemia at the study's start, 56 patients (79%) no longer had ischemia three years later.
That finding was "striking and unexpected," write Yale University's Frans Wackers, MD, and colleagues.
The researchers aren't sure that the medications reversed ischemia.
For instance, the study doesn't show whether the patients also got serious about their diet and exercise after learning they had silent cardiac ischemia, or which medications helped most.
The surprising results deserve further research, Wackers and colleagues conclude.
Their study appears in the November edition of Diabetes Care.