Is rest or exercise hypertension a cause of a false-positive exercise test?

Todd D. Miller, Timothy F. Christian, Thomas G. Allison, Ray W. Squires, David O. Hodge, Raymond J. Gibbons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Study objectives: To determine if a history of hypertension or an exaggerated rise in exercise systolic BP is associated with a false-positive exercise ECG. Design, setting, and patients: Retrospective analysis of the associations between exercise-induced ST-segment depression and a history of hypertension, exercise systolic BP, and several other clinical and exercise test variables. Among 20,097 patients referred for exercise tomographic thallium imaging in a nuclear cardiology laboratory at a tertiary care center, 1,873 patients met inclusion criteria for this study, which included no history of myocardial infarction or coronary artery revascularization, a normal resting ECG, and normal exercise thallium images. Results: False- positive ST-segment depression occurred in 20% of the population. A history of hypertension was actually associated with a lower likelihood of ST-segment depression (odds ratio, 0.70; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.55 to 0.89; p = 0.004). A higher peak exercise systolic BP was associated with a higher likelihood of ST-segment depression (odds ratio, 1.08 for each 10-mm Hg increase in systolic BP; 95% CI, 1.03 to 1.14; p < 0.001). However, the association between peak exercise systolic BP and ST-segment depression was so weak that this measurement could not be predictive in the individual patient (R2 = 0.2%). For every 20-mm Hg increase in peak exercise systolic BP, the percentage of patients with ST-segment depression increased by only 3%. Conclusions: In patients with normal resting ECGs, we conclude the following: (1) a history of hypertension is not a cause of a false-positive exercise test, and (2) higher exercise systolic BP is a significant but weak predictor of ST-segment depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-232
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000


  • BP
  • Hypertension
  • ST-segment depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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