Posts Tagged ‘non q mi’

It was April 15th 1912, Titanic, the Invincible, had just sunk into the dark waters of the Atlantic coast off Newfoundland. Exactly same time around, Dr. James Herrick, In Chicago, Illinois was busy documenting the first diagnosed case of acute coronary thrombosis. A new disease was born ie Myocardial Infarction. This was also the era of the Noble Prize-winning  Invention of the ECG machine by Waller, Einthoven, and Thomas Lewis & co that sow the seeds for the specialty of electro-cardiology.

Though much was studied about MI with pathological specimens in the subsequent decades, there was a lull in the efforts to define the entity of myocardial Infarction till WHO  defined in the early 1970s. It was dogmatic, still fair enough. (Clinical, Enzymes, ECG criteria, with  any two feature, must be present to diagnose )

Since then, the field of cardiology has seen unprecedented development in both the diagnosis and treatment of ACS. We now have a universal definition( EHJ 2019 Thygesen K ) that asks us to triage based on high sensitive troponin followed by clinical and other parameters. STEMI usually doesn’t have much diagnostic confusion.

Nomenclature Issues in NSTEMI/UA

The definition of NSTEMI  refuses to settle, though we have come a long way since the times  UA/NSTEMI were clubbed together as siblings. The term unstable angina was coined by one of the most revered cardiologists of our times  Dr. Noble O Fowler in 1978. They are the same one hitherto referred to as Intermediate coronary syndrome/Pre Infarction angina. Later, if enzymes were raised it was labeled as non-transmural/Non-Q  MI. This became the classical NSTEMI later changed to NSTEACS (Still it is valid)

The semantics surrounding the NSTEMI  is unlikely to end as long as we depend largely on ECG to diagnose and treat complex coronary obstructive syndromes. This, by no means, undermine the importance of ECG in this setting. It will remain the gold standard as far as, I can look into the future.

Some observation about the new ESC 2020 NSTEMI guidelines

Anyway, ESC 2020 has addressed this issue. It suggests a new term “ACS without persistent ST elevation” for NSTEMI (Ideally they should have used this abbreviation  NP-STEACS)

(*I guess, the current ESC 2020 guidelines really wanted to get rid of both NSTEMI/NSTEACS for a very valid reason but still it was worried about the confusion it might create so retained the old term NSTEMI/NSTEACS  )

The categories included in the current NSTEMI scheme are

1.Transient ST elevation (How transient ? Prinzmetal/ Non Prinzmetal ?)

2.Persistent ST depression

3.T inversion

4.Flat (Absent ) T wave

5.Pseudo normalization of T

It may include the following as well (Not in official ESC 20220 guidelines)

6*.Hyperacute T (Very early STEMI ? or NSTEMI?

7*.Wellen/Dewinter or its variants

I think ESC is to be appreciated for recognizing an off ignored observation that UA may have a transient ST elevation and end up later as NSTEMI/NSTACS. This group of ACS still poses a challenge for us to understand the overlap between total and subtotal coronary occlusion (Non-Prinzmetal ST elevation)

Final message 

Does this nomenclature issue create problems in management? 

  • Yes, it does. The major implication is in the diagnosis ACS with dynamic ST segments ( ST-elevation / /depression or any combination)
  • If a probable STEMI after spontaneous lysis presents as NSTEMI, Is it the baby STEMI or neo NSTEMI ? One may not rush such NSTEMI patients to cath labs.
  • Of course, many of us are conditioned to follow a “single point agenda “ that dictates all ACS shall reach the cath lab and managed thereafter based on coronary anatomy. If that is the case, I am sure the bulk of this 79-page new NSTEMI guideline appears redundant.(Ref 1)


1.Jean-Philippe Collet,  ESC Scientific Document Group, 2020 ESC Guidelines for the management of acute coronary syndromes in patients presenting without persistent ST-segment elevation: The Task Force for the management of acute coronary syndromes in patients presenting without persistent ST-segment elevation of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), European Heart Journal, , ehaa575https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehaa575

2 Fourth Universal Definition of Myocardial Infarction (2018). Eur Heart J 2019;40:237-269. 

Read Full Post »

This  is the ECG  of  a  45 year old man with  H/O hypertension  and  chest pain .The general practitioner who first saw him alerted this  patient about a possible  heart  attack  asked to meet a cardiologist immediately. The cardiologist who  saw  this ECG   tended to confirm  the diagnosis  and advised admission in  a coronary  care unit .

The patient   defied  both  and  somehow landed in my echo lab  .  Looking at the ECG   I also  expected  it to be a  STEMI  evolving into a  Non Q  MI .

I was surprised  to find  only LVH with absolutely no wall motion defect  . There was no evidence of ASH,  HOCM or apical cardiomyoapthy as one of my fellows initially  suspected . His  EF was 70 %.   Cardiac enzymes were sent by then. When  I spent few minutes  with him ,  listening the history , it was very clear  what  he had was  non cardiac pain . In the anxiety ,  no one  got it right  about the character of pain ,which  was localised , lasted  for few seconds and  least suggesed angina.

The moral of the story is   listen to the patient  however dramatic the ECG may look !

What is special in this ECG ?

It is common for LVH with ST depression to be  mistaken for  ACS/NSTEMI

Here , there were  other  observations that  added  more  complexity .

  • Presence  of  ST/T changes in inferior leads(ST elevation in lead 3)
  • Bi-phasic  T wave in v1 to v3
  • ST elevation  in precardial leads

In LVH  it is usual  to note  ST depresion , how do you explain ST elevation in LVH ?

ST elevation in LVH   may occur in  leads  v1 to v3   . It is very rare  for LVH to inscribe  ST  elevation in   v4 v5 v6  .   Why certain  leads elevate the ST segment while others depress  in LVH  is not clear. It may represent  incomplete LBBB pattern where the ST segment deviates opposite to the  dominant QRS  complex. Septal  hypertrophy often elevate  while free  wall  hypertrophy depress the ST segment . Since V5,V6 leads are free wall oriented , these leads  record  classical  ST depression .

Importance of Bi-Phasic T waves

Please remember  Bi phasic T waves are notorious for it’s  unpredictability. An  innocuous looking bi-phasic T waves  (especially  with dynamic behavior )   is a  harbinger of proximal  LAD or even left main disease.

Finally , what will be ECG  changes if a patient with classical  LVH  who  develops a  real  STEMI ?

  • LV strain  pattern normalises ?
  • Further ST depression  occurs ?
  • No great changes . ECG  Looks near normal ?

Answer : ?

What is the significance  of   Bi-phasic T  waves : A  link to  a related post

Read Full Post »