New STEMI Diagnostic Criteria from the ACCF/AHA

Here’s a snippet from the December 2012 release of the new 2013 AHA STEMI Management Guidelines, which has a couple of subtle changes to the diagnostic ECG criteria for STEMI, which may come up in the exam. You can access the full guideline here:

“STEMI is a clinical syndrome defined by characteristic symptoms of myocardial ischemia in association with persistent electrocardiographic (ECG) ST elevation and subsequent release of biomarkers of myocardial necrosis. Diagnostic ST elevation in the absence of left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy or left bundle-branch block (LBBB) is defined by the European Society of Cardiology/ACCF/AHA/World Heart Federation Task Force for the Universal Definition of Myocardial Infarction as new ST elevation at the J point in at least 2 contiguous leads of ≥2 mm (0.2 mV) in men or ≥1.5 mm (0.15 mV) in women in leads V2–V3 and/or of ≥1 mm (0.1 mV) in other contiguous chest leads or the limb leads (7). The majority of patients will evolve ECG evidence of Q-wave infarction. New or presumably new LBBB has been considered a STEMI equivalent. Most cases of LBBB at time of presentation, however, are “not known to be old” because of prior electrocardiogram (ECG) is not available for comparison. New or presumably new LBBB at presentation occurs infrequently, may interfere with ST-elevation analysis, and should not be considered diagnostic of acute myocardial infarction (MI) in isolation (8). Criteria for ECG diagnosis of acute STEMI in the setting of LBBB have been proposed (see Online Data Supplement 1). Baseline ECG abnormalities other than LBBB (e.g., paced rhythm, LV hypertrophy, Brugada syndrome) may obscure interpretation. In addition, ST depression in ≥2 precordial leads (V1–V4) may indicate transmural posterior injury; multilead ST depression with coexistent ST elevation in lead aVR has been described in patients with left main or proximal left anterior descending artery occlusion (9). Rarely, hyperacute T-wave changes may be observed in the very early phase of STEMI, before the development of ST elevation. Transthoracic echocardiography may provide evidence of focal wall motion abnormalities and facilitate triage in patients with ECG findings that are difficult to interpret. If doubt persists, immediate referral for invasive angiography may be necessary to guide therapy in the appropriate clinical context ((10),11). Cardiac troponin is the preferred biomarker for diagnosis of MI”.


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