After the UK released a series of recommendations showing that exercise electrocardiograms (ECGs) should not be used to diagnose or exclude stable angina in patient assessments, new research has shown that the test has other uses.
Researchers at the University of Bristol found that the ECGs help to clarify symptoms and other aspects of clinical history by including patients in the diagnostic process.
The study also claims that ECGs provide a context for guidance on reversible cardiovascular risk factors. For example, while monitoring a patient on a treadmill, conversation often occurs in which the clinician extract clearer descriptions of symptoms.
Moreover, ECGs facilitate reassurance in relation to exercise capacity and tolerance.
Dr Helen Cramer, lead author of the study, commented: "Many of the practices that have been built up around the use of the exercise ECG are potentially beneficial to patients and need to be considered in the re-design of chest pain assessment services without that test."
ECGs have also been criticised for their inability to identify cardiac problems in athletes, who naturally have a higher level of endurance and fitness.
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