Posts Tagged ‘epicardial fat and q waves’

Q waves are  neither  sacred  nor sinister waves . It represents   either of the  following .

  1. Electrical activity that goes away from the recording electrode.
  2. Or whenever there is a  electrical insulation or hurdle that interrupts the flow  of current  towards the electrode ( and if it is sustained )  it  can result in q waves (Minor interruption produces  a notch or  slurs . Please note a major slur becomes a q wave equivalent  )

Here is young women of 42 years with  a diagnosis of  old  anterior MI for   over 5 years ( Getting a dedicated care from a cardiologist!  The prescription included Imdur/Betaloc/ Statin/Clopidogrel and Aspirin )

This was the ECG . It was very convincing for  old ASMI.

epicardial fat and poor r wave in v 1 v 2 v3 q  waves

It  happened ,  I did an echo for her .

epicardial fat and q waves in ecg pesudo infarct non infarct 2  q

She lacked wall motion defects even after a meticulous search .  Instead   she had a   good layer of epicardial fat measuring 9 mm .That was more localised in  anterior wall extending little to LV apex.Her EF 65 % .

*She was a  fairly obese (not gross )  individual with a BMI of 34 .The fat pad thickness was not that huge  , I thought , still it was producing the q waves . I  have seen much thicker fat pads with good R waves in ECG . I  wonder ,  is it the type of fat that adds up to electrical insulation ?

This patient was sent back to me  again  for ruling out ASMI .  Echo was  done  two weeks  later . No evidence for  ASMI  could be detected.

epicardial fat and q waves in ecg pesudo infarct non infarct fat 2  q

What is the normal thickness of epicardial fat pad ?

It is less than few mm . Exact normality is not known .(Empirically < 5mm ) it is very rare for fat deposition  in infero posterior aspect , except in morbid obesity.

What is the function of epicardial fat ?

  • Long considered inert . Now , found to be a metabolically  active lipid pool.
  • We also know  heart  consumes more fatty acid than an other organs for moment to moment energy consumption .
  • Inflammatory mediator in atherosclerosis ?
  • It may also act as a mechanical cushion effect along with pericardium
  • Rarely fat infiltration can compress the heart and may result in restrictive  AV filling defects in doppler  .(May explain the unexpanded dyspnea  in many obese patients )
epicardial fat a dynamic depot athreosclerosis

Role of epicardial fat depot in the genesis of atherosclerosis

Subcutaneous vs  Epicardial fat.

We know thick chest wall can also interfere with ECG. Epicardial fat is more likely to record  q waves than  sub cutaneous fat ,  as the insulation is more closer to heart in epicardial fat . In thick chest wall current leaks from heart and  well scattered  hence  poor R wave is more common in such situations rather than q waves !

Following things can generate  q waves (Other than Infarct  )

  1. Fibrosis-Myocardial /Interstitial
  2. LVH
  3. Thickened pericardium
  4. Thick chest wall/ Epicardial fat
  5. Air/Fluid in pericardial space

Final message

In obese men and women  anterior Q wave can be  misleading .Such  medical errors can be so convincing .

After thought

If epicardial fat can  extinguish   R waves  and  replace it with  q waves  , these  innocuous  looking fat pads has every reason to  influence the ST segment shifts during  an episode  of ACS  as well !  .  Isn’t ?  . If so  . . . how reliable is  our ECG criterias  to diagnose  acute coronary syndromes  in grossly obese men and women ?

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