Although women with cardiovascular disease experience relatively worse outcomes as compared to men, substantial knowledge gaps remain regarding the unique female determinants of cardiovascular risk. Heart rate (HR) responses to vasodilator stress mirror autonomic activity and may carry important long-term prognostic information in women.
METHODS AND RESULTS
Hemodynamic changes during adenosine stress were recorded in a total of 508 consecutive patients (104 women) undergoing clinically indicated N-ammonia Positron-Emission-Tomography (PET) at our institution. Following propensity matching, 202 patients (101 women, mean age 61.3 ± 12.6 years) were analyzed. During a median follow-up of 5.6 years, 97 patients had at least one cardiac event, including 17 cardiac deaths. Heart rate reserve (% HRR) during adenosine infusion was significantly higher in women as compared to men (23.8 ± 19.5 vs 17.3 ± 15.3, p = 0.009). A strong association between 10-year cardiovascular endpoints and a blunted HRR was observed in women, while this association was less pronounced in men. Accordingly, in women, but not in men, reduced HRR was selected as a strong predictor for adverse cardiovascular events in a Cox regression model fully adjusted for imaging findings and traditional risk factors (HR 2.41, 95% CI 1.23-4.75, p = 0.011). Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curves revealed that a blunted HRR <21% was a powerful predictor for MACE in women with a sensitivity of 77% and a specificity of 68%.
Blunted HRR to adenosine stress adds incremental prognostic value for long-term cardiovascular outcomes in women beyond that provided by traditional risk factors and imaging findings.