A recent study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings has shown that the results of the exercise stress test, a common test that uses a treadmill and electrocardiogram to measure fitness, can predict the risk of both cardiovascular-related deaths and non-cardiovascular related deaths, including cancer.
The study included over 13,000 patients ages 30 through 79 who participated in an exercise stress test between September 1993 and December 2010. The exercise stress test is a common non-invasive test using a treadmill and an electrocardiogram that gives data on aerobic capacity, heart rate recovery, resting heart rate, and fitness. Abnormalities on the exercise test included low functional aerobic capacity, low heart rate recovery, and low chronotropic index (a measure reflecting age, resting heart rate, and fitness). After taking the test, participants were followed-up with for a median of almost 13 years, and deaths were monitored using Mayo Clinic Records and the Minnesota Death Index (all participants were Minnesota residents). The goal of the study was to determine whether the exercise stress test could predict both cardiovascular-related and non-cardiovascular-related deaths.
The results showed that non-cardiovascular-related deaths, such as death due to cancer, could be predicted by exercise test abnormalities, including low functional aerobic capacity, low heart rate recovery, and low chronotropic index. These results were also predictors of cardiovascular-related deaths.
The authors of the study noted that non-cardiovascular deaths were more common than cardiovascular deaths in the cohort, with cancer being the leading cause of death. Exercise stress test abnormalities were associated with increased risk of mortality of all types. These results suggest that the exercise stress test is an important clinical diagnostic and that all patients should be encouraged to stay physically active.