The electrocardiogram (ECG) machine is almost useless at predicting a future heart attack, even among patients who already complain of angina and chest pains.
Doctors should instead spend more time talking to the patient and carrying out a physical examination, say researchers from the Newham University Hospital in London.
The researchers tracked the progress of 8,176 patients with suspected angina who were all given ECGs before and after exercise on a treadmill - and yet the machines were almost useless at detecting a future heart attack or heart disease. They were no more effective at predicting a heart event than a doctor would by assessing likely risk from known parameters, the researchers concluded.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2008; 337: a2240).