The ECG Tread Mill Test commonly used to identify people who are prone to heart attacks is not a fool-proof procedure to know the condition of heart especially among high-risk professionals like pilots, according to a latest study.
The study is an eye opener and probably the established criteria for positive Tread Mill Test (TMT) needs revision in order to avoid treating healthy persons as heart patients, its author Colonel M J Jacob, head of the department of Nuclear Medicine, Army Hospital Research and Refferal said.
The study has been published in the Journal of Associations of Physicians in India.
With increased prevalence of coronary artery disease, people especiall the young are anxious to find out about their risk of suffering from a heart attack in near future and hence, undergo TMT to clear the doubt.
ECG TMT is one of the main tests routinely used to detect the adequacy of the blood supply to cardiac muscles during rest as well as at times of higher stress.
All those who test positive for ECG TMT are put through further tests and procedures.
“A total of 152 people including airline pilots, military personnel making it to higher altitudes, submariners and executives who reported positive for ECG TMT were analysed in order to ensure their cardiac fitness in stress conditions.
“It was found that the test grossly over-estimated the presence of cardiac problems and put healthy persons through unnecessary tests and procedures,” Colonel Jacob said.
Chest discomfort could have been due to other minor problems unrelated to heart like acidity, chest wall muscle main etc, he said.
He said, “ECG TMT is one of the very common investigations being used in the periodic medical examination of high risk professionals.
“It’s time we revise the test criteria. It’s time we revise the test criteria in order stop person from being unduly being subjected to coronary angiography,” he said.