Posts Tagged ‘infero posterior stemi’

IRA localization for both LAD and RCA , LCX  is a fascinating  exercise for cardiologists.I suspect  our understanding  about this crucial issue is  far from complete .While  localizing  level of lesion within LCA  or RCA requires more precise data and erring is acceptable  , it is not uncommon to  call  even the  IRA wrong  especially in multi -vessel disease.

Why current   criteria of IRA localisation goes awry many times  ?

The  factors  that operate are not few   . . .  it  runs into a dozen  at least  !

  1. Dominance  is never considered during IRA localization  (A right dominate system can vastly influence the LAD localization  algorithm PLV branches  can protect LV postero- lateral segments in spite of proximal LAD lesions )
  2. The length of  mid LAD   IS  controversial entity ( Traditionally  it refers  to  the  segment  between first major diagonal to second  major diagonal or septal  leads to faulty   coronary mensuration .It is not uncommon to have a  mid LAD measuring few  mm  when  full the full  length of  LAD  is about 15-19cm
  3. Diagonal vs OM  trade off occurs  in every alternate patient which is ignored  !
  4. Ramus  is never considered worthy enough  to be included in the IRA  localization scheme (In spite its presence  in 20 % )
  5. Type of LAD is not given allowance.
  6. Finally &  most importantly these rules of IRA localization will not apply in  the setting of  multivessel  CAD
  7. In the presence of Pre existing CTO
  8. STEMI following chronic stable angina
  9. Extensive collaterals
  10. Re Infarctions
  11. Post CABG etc

Final message

Decide for yourself  . . .  how good is the value of IRA localization  after  considering all the above variable. . It is not a great thing to predict  correctly RCA from LCX in an  inferoposterior MI  with a  70 % accuracy  . (It actually means  20 % accuracy  )    statistically when there are only two options  . . .  we are blindly  right 50% of times   !

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Human heart is a vital bundle of muscle  weighing  about 300-400 grams. The blood  supply of this muscle  mass  is highly variable . Some areas are abundantly  vascularised(  eg -IVS.) Some areas have a balanced blood supply with  twin blood supply (Often the  LCX and RCA in the  crux of the heart ). Certain areas have a precarious blood supply . They are  some time called as water shed areas or  vulnerable   Bermuda triangle of the heart – the  overlapping zone of   LV apex,  free wall and  the anterior surface.

When the blood supply is so  heterogeneous , it is  not surprising  to find  the neural innervation of the heart to have a  unique pattern as well .The cardiac  autonomic nervous system   is  mediated by the  cardiac plexus  . It  has a  dominant adrenergic  innervation in the anterior   aspect of the heart   that is  rich in catecholamines , while the infero posterior  aspect  of heart has a high density of  vagal fibres .

So , it becomes easy to understand , why  ischemia of inferoposterior regions often trigger  a vagal response and an adrenergic response  in  anterior ischemia  .Of course , overlap can occur especially in multivessel CAD with collateral dependent circulation.

The inferoposterior MI ,  generally  have  a better outcome as it imitates  naturally beta blocked heart . (Less heart  rate , less MVO2  more salvage ) Still  hypotension  can be  a worrisome complication in inferoposterior MI .

The following  factors contribute to hypotension in infero posterior STEMI

  • Heightened  vagal tone  due to Bezold  jarish reflex
  • Involvement of RV is known to occur up to 40% of all  inferoposterior MI. Loss of RV pumping action is the classical explanation of hypotension
  • Recently recognised  fact  : Infero posterior MI often have subclinical and subelectrical atrial involvement. This is a powerful trigger for  the atrial  naturetic peptide secretion. ANP  a water losing hormone explains much of hypotension in this situation. .It should also be noted atrial necrosis is not necessary for ANP release. Simple atrial stretch  or even RV stretch can be a stimulus for ANP .
  • Variable degree of LV involvement is  common in infero posterior  MI .This can have detrimental effect on LV pump function . It  can  be a independent  factor for  the hypotension.
  • Excess sedation with morphine may aggravate or precipitate hypotension.(Vagal  action of morphine )
  • Finally , and most importantly a common cause  is  hypovolemic  hypotension (Applicable for any STEMI – Severe sweating  and sometimes vomiting can  loose  up to  10 liters of body water )

How to manage ?

  • Correct hypovolemia
  • Water challenge in RVMI is a popular (Often abused) concept . Rule of thumb is , if 1000ml  of  rapid infusion  fails to correct the hypo it is  highly unlikely  it will  do it at 5 liters  ! Cases of fluid overload and dilutional hyponatremia have been reported.
  • Atropine (This is one of the rare situations  where vagal blockade increases the BP ) .Dopamine may be useful but logically we need to  reduce the high vagal tone  and bring autonomic parity  . (Increasing adrenergic tone to that of high vagal levels  for autonomic parity  is  a lesser logic !)
  • Temporary pacing may be needed if  blood pressure fail to raise because of  troublesome bradycardia.
  • And  of course  , rapid PCI and revascularisation  when Indicated

Final message

Hypotension in inferoposterior MI is often  considered innocuous. But , it can be dangerous in some , especially in the  elderly and comorbid individuals . It has  varied mechanisms  , that are distinctly different from anterior STEMI.  Recognising the underlying mechanism  hypotension  will aid us to correct it  rapidly.

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Myocardial infarction (STEMI)  occurs in two distinct arterial  territories .The anterior LAD circulation and postero- inferior RCA/LCX circulation.The incidence is equally shared.

There has been some  learned and unlearned perceptions about Inferior MI.

Inferior MI is less dangerous than anterior MI.  True or false ?

Answer: Essentially true in most situations.


Inferior wall of the heart (strictly speaking there is no walls for heart , only surfaces , which blends with adjacent areas)  inferior wall  is formed by diaphragmatic surface and posterior surface.Inferior MI can occur by either RCA or LCX obstruction.The outcome of inferior MI is determined by mainly by  the extent  of   LV myocardial   damage it inflicts.To  quantitate this  we need to know , how much of LV is supplied by RCA , or LCX or combination of both ? This depend on the coronary dominance .It is estimated , the bulk of the LV is supplied ( up to 75%  ) by LCA. This becomes further high in left dominant circulations . In fact , it is believed LV can never get involved in non dominant RCA occlusions. This has brought in a new terminology  called “Small inferior MI”.Inferior STEMI due to PDA  occlusion or in a co -dominant circulation is not yet studied

Apart from the above  anatomical considerations the following clinical observations  have  been made regarding inferior MI.

  • When thrombolysis was introduced , many studies  suggested the the ST elevation in inferior  leads toched the isolectric levels  in most situations even without thrombolysis.Technically, this implies spontaneous , successful thrombolysis are more common in RCA. Among the thrombolysed ,persistent ST elvation is a rare phenomenon.
  • The well known difference in the conduction defect between anterior and inferior MI  is an important contibutor for better outcome in the later.(AV blocks in inferior MI , are often transient, non progressive, supra hisian location rarely require permanent pacemakers)
  • During acute phase cardiogenic shock occurs in a minority (That too , only if RV shock is included )
  • Even in the follow up the ejection fraction in inferior MI is  almost always above  40%. In many EF is not affected at all.
  • Progressive adverse remodelling of LV is rare

When can Inferior MI be dangerous ?

Anatomical factors

Inspite of the  above  factors  inferior MI can not be taken lightly . Especially when it  extend into posterior, lateral , (Rarely anterior) segments.

While  posterior extension  is often  tolerated , lateral extension is very poorly tolerated .This is probably explained as  the extension involves the vital free wall of LV and the laplace forces could precipitate LVF. Free wall rupture is also common in this situation.

Posterior extension , predominantly involves the surface of RV which is less important hemodynamically. Of course incidence of MR  due to it’s effect on posterior mitral leaflet can be trouble some.

inferior MI ECG

High risk clinical catagories.

Out of hospital STEMI  are at  equal  risk irrespective of the territories involved  .This is because,  primary VF does not differentiate , whether  ischemia comes from RCA or LAD .

  1. In elderly , dibetics and co existing medical condtions  the the established  benign   character  of  inferior MI disappear, as  any  muscle loss  in LV has equally adverse outcome.
  2. Even though  inferior MIs are immune  to cardiogenic shock  , a equally worrisome  prolonged hypotension due to high vagal tone, bradycardia, plus or minus RVMI can create trouble. Fortunately , they respond better to  treatment. Except a few with extensive transmural RVMI outcome is good.
  3. Presence of  mechanical complications of  ventricular septal rupture , ischemic MR can bring  the mortality on par with large anterior MI.

How different is the clinical outcome of infero-posterior  MI with reference  to the  site of  coronary arterial  obstruction   ?

The sequence of  outcome  From  best to worse  : Non dominant RCA* → Dominant RCA but distal to RV branch → LCX dominant with large OMs

* It is believed   an  acute proximal  obstruction of a  non dominant RCA may not be mechanically significant, but can be electrically significant as it retains the risk of primary VF and SA nodal ischemia. The ECG changes  can be very minimal or  some times simple bradycardia is the only clue. One should be able to recognise this entity (Non dominant  RCA STEMI)  as the outcome is  excellent and these patients  would never require procedure like primary  PCI

** A inferior MI due to a dominant LCX and a large OMs have comparable outcome as that of extensive anterior MI. The ECG will reveal ST elevation in both inferior and lateral leads.

***In patients with prior CAD  and collateral dependent  multivessel disease  the  inferior anterior sub classification does not make much sense as  entire coronary circulation can be mutually interdependent.

Final message

Inferior STEMI  generally lacks the vigor  to cause extensive damage to myocardium in most situations .Further they respond better to treatment. Risk stratification of STEMI based on the location of MI has not been popular among mainstream cardiologists. This issue needs some introspection as  the costly and complex treatment modalities like primary PCI  is unwarranted in most of the low risk inferior MIs.

Related posts in my blog:

1.Why thrombolysis is more effective in RCA?

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