The Duke treadmill score with bicycle ergometer: Exercise capacity is the most important predictor of cardiovascular mortality

Esko Salokari, Jari A Laukkanen, Terho Lehtimaki, Sudhir Kurl, Setor Kunutsor, Francesco Zaccardi, Jari Viik, Rami Lehtinen, Kjell Nikus, Tiit Kööbi, Väinö Turjanmaa, Mika Kähönen, Tuomo Nieminen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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BACKGROUND: The Duke treadmill score, a widely used treadmill testing tool, is a weighted index combining exercise time or capacity, maximum ST-segment deviation and exercise-induced angina. No previous studies have investigated whether the Duke treadmill score and its individual components based on bicycle exercise testing predict cardiovascular death.

DESIGN: Two populations with a standard bicycle testing were used: 3936 patients referred for exercise testing (2371 men, age 56 ± 13 years) from the Finnish Cardiovascular Study (FINCAVAS) and a population-based sample of 2683 men (age 53 ± 5.1 years) from the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease study (KIHD).

METHODS: Cox regression was applied for risk prediction with cardiovascular mortality as the primary endpoint.

RESULTS: In FINCAVAS, during a median 6.3-year (interquartile range (IQR) 4.5-8.2) follow-up period, 180 patients (4.6%) experienced cardiovascular mortality. In KIHD, 562 patients (21.0%) died from cardiovascular causes during the median follow-up of 24.1 (IQR 18.0-26.2) years. The Duke treadmill score was associated with cardiovascular mortality in both populations (FINCAVAS, adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 3.15 for highest vs. lowest Duke treadmill score tertile, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.83-5.42, P < 0.001; KIHD, adjusted HR 1.71, 95% CI 1.34-2.18, P < 0.001). However, after progressive adjustment for the Duke treadmill score components, the score was not associated with cardiovascular mortality in either study population, as exercise capacity in metabolic equivalents of task was the dominant harbinger of poor prognosis.

CONCLUSIONS: The Duke treadmill score is associated with cardiovascular mortality among patients who have undergone bicycle exercise testing, but metabolic equivalents of task, a component of the Duke treadmill score, proved to be a superior predictor.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Preventive Cardiology
Early online date24 Oct 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Oct 2018


  • Cardiovascular Mortality
  • Prognostic Factors
  • Stress Test

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