One hundred forty-seven asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic patients with coronary artery disease, who did not have significant left main coronary occlusion and had an ejection fraction greater than 20 percent, were followed up prospectively for 6 to 67 months (average 25). Significant obstruction of one coronary artery was present in 28 percent of patients, of two coronary arteries in 31 percent and of three coronary arteries in 41 percent. Ejection fraction was 55 percent or greater in 69 percent of patients. During the follow-up period there were eight deaths (annual mortality rate 3 percent for the entire group, 1.5 percent for patients with single and double vessel disease but 6 percent for those with triple vessel disease). Better definition of high and low risk subgroups of patients with three vessel disease was accomplished with exercise testing. Despite a history of mild symptoms, 25 percent of the patients with triple vessel disease exhibited poor exercise capacity on exercise testing after administration of beta adrenoceptor blocking agents and nitrates was discontinued; of these, 40 percent either died (20 percent) or had progressive symptoms requiring operation (20 percent) (annual mortality rate 9 percent). Of the patients with good exercise capacity, only 22 percent either died (7 percent) or had progressive symptoms (15 percent) (annual mortality rate 4 percent). Thus, prognosis is excellent in patients with no or mild symptoms who have one or two vessel coronary disease. Patients with three vessel disease who have good exercise capacity documented by objective testing have an annual mortality rate of 4 percent. However, because patients with three vessel disease and poor exercise capacity have an extremely grave prognosis, it would appear reasonable to recommend coronary bypass surgery for this subgroup, even in the absence of supporting data derived from a definitive randomized study.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine