, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 551-561

Comparison of risk stratification with pharmacologic and exercise stress myocardial perfusion imaging: A meta-analysis

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Although pharmacologic stress myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) and exercise stress MPI have comparable diagnostic accuracy, their comparative value for risk stratification of patients with known or suspected coronary disease is not known.

Methods and Results

The data of 14,918 patients were combined from 24 studies evaluating prognosis in patients undergoing either pharmacologic stress or exercise stress MPI. Studies were included if a 2 x 2 table for hard cardiac events (cardiac death and myocardial infarction [MI]) could be constructed from the data available. Excluded were studies performed for post-MI, post-revascularization, or preoperative risk stratification. A weighted t test was used to compare the cardiac events, and a random effects model was used to calculate summary odds ratios. Summary odds ratios for hard cardiac events were similar for pharmacologic stress and exercise stress MPI. Summary receiver operating characteristic curves also showed no difference in discriminatory power between the stressors. The cardiac event rates were significantly higher with normal and abnormal test results with pharmacologic stress MPI than with exercise stress MPI (1.78% vs 0.65% [P < .001] for normal results and 9.98% vs 4.3% [P < .001] for abnormal results). Subgroup analysis revealed that both cardiac death and nonfatal MI were significantly higher with pharmacologic stress MPI. Patients undergoing pharmacologic stress MPI had a significantly higher prevalence of poor prognostic factors, and meta-regression revealed that exercise capacity was the single most important predictor of cardiac events.


This meta-analysis shows that exercise stress MPI and pharmacologic stress MPI are comparable in their ability to risk-stratify patients. However, patients undergoing pharmacologic stress studies are at a higher risk for subsequent cardiac events. This is true even for those with normal perfusion imaging results.