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Top 5 conditions that closely mimic and often mistaken for STEMI !

Posted Nov 11 2012 9:03am

Top 5 conditions that closely mimic and often mistaken for STEMI !

  1. Early repolarisation syndrome
  2. Left bundle branch block(LBBB)/ Left ventricular hypertrophy(LVH)
  3. Hyperkalemia
  4. Pericarditis
  5. Brugada syndrome

ERS

The repolarisation is due to  K + efflux . The  K channel porosity  is subjected to high degree of genetic  variations .If the repolarisation starts even by 10 milli- second earlier,  it would have early take off from descending  limb of R wave  and  the J point  ST segment appear elevated.

  • Common  in young  males . Especially in vago-tonic persons with relative baseline bradycardia
  • The ST elevation in ERS is often global .
  • Concavity is upwards .
  • ST elevation can be dynamic ( Further  confusing the picture ! )
  • On EST it  is expected to the  touch the baseline .
  • Benign entity in most . ( False alarm of STEMI is the major risk !)
  • There is some evidence ERS may confer a risk  of  primary VF ,  if they  experience a true STEMI  (Michel Haïssaguerre 2008  NEJM )

* STEMI in ERS :  The issue becomes too delicate ,  if  a  patient with ERS  develops  a true ACS .   ERS being a common ECG pattern in general population , it is not wise to label  every  chest pain in  ERS patient as benign . Suspicious  ones demand observation in step down units , at least !

LBBB

 ”Any patient with  LBBB & chest pain . . . suspect  MI”  .

Unfortunately,  this rule is  too reverently followed by  physician community.  In fact ,  ACC/AHA guidelines  reinforced this behavior ,  as it  added a key word  in  their STEMI guidelines   “New onset”  or   “presumably new onset “  LBBB is  an  indication for PCI/Thrombolysis    .( Physician presumption is a too delicate thread  to hang  our concepts !   )

               Every LBBB is new onset unless you have  a  documented proof otherwise  . . .   it seems to suggest !

Probably , this  is the reason many of the LBBBs are thrombolysed when they present to ER in an acute fashion . Of course , we can apply criteria of  Sgarbossa   to differentiate !  however flimsy it may appear . It  help us to exclude few benign LBBBs. Still ,  Sgarbossa will  struggle to  differentiate  an acute STEMI  in Chronic LBBB  from an  acute LBBB in  old AWMI .

Simply put . . . even old MIs  are at risk of  acute intervention if they have LBBB  and vague chest pain !

How to overcome this ?  Always rely on clinical  features  . If  STEMI is causing the LBBB ,  it  should be a large extensive one and you can not  expect the patient to be  comfortable .(Logic  would suggest necrosis of  large  parts of IVS is necessary to cause LBBB ) Chronic  LBBBs  are relatively comfortable  .

Of course , there  is one another  issue to comprehend  ie  transient ischemic LBBB .We do not know the true incidence  and long-term significance of this entity . Here , LBBB is  not due to necrosis of  the bundle but due to ischemia . (Almost impossible to differentiate it from  rate dependent LBBB  with  aberrancy  )

Role of enzymes and Echocardiogram in LBBB  and suspected STEMI .

You can always ask  for   Troponin  T / CPK MB .(They are helpful only  if 3 hours have elapsed , can we afford to wait ? ) . LBBB  due to STEMI  will  purge  a large quantum of cardiac enzymes from the infarcted zone . (So a marginal elevation is not going to help!)

Unfortunately,  LBBB  can induce wall motion defect in septum that may awkwardly simulate an ischemic wall motion. Even experts have erred in this . One clue  is,  the motion defects  can  not  extend   into anterior wall . It  is confined to septum ,the second clue  is a little delayed  post QRS  thickening of IVS (Septal beaking sign will vouch  for benign LBBB with fair degree of success  )

LVH

  • LVH can mimic a STEMI due to secondary ST/T changes . (Secondary to tall R wave )
  • LVH with incomplete LBBB  – A very common association that can further elevate ST segment in v1 to v3 .
  • Left ventricular hypertrophy  mimics old MI as poor R wave progression in V1 to  V3.
  • Contrary to our belief even Inferior  leads can  show q waves due to  inferior  septal hypertrophy.

Hyperkalemia.

With aging population and rampant  acute and chronic renal disorders it is becoming  a daily affair to get calls from medical units for ECG changes .We know  the rapidity of  efflux  potassium is responsible for ventricular re-polarisation .Phase 2, and 3 are K + exit zones. This is the same phase ST segment and T wave are inscribed.In hyperkalemia  K + accumulates inside the cell and keep  ST/T  segment  elevated .T wave also  becomes tall . It can mimic  both as hyper acute  STEMI .

Read a related article (Dialyisable current of Injury )

Pericarditis

  • ST elevation is not confined to an arterial territory
  • Can be global .(Regional ST elevation  does not exclude pericarditis)
  • ST elevation is concave upwards as in ERS

Link to Read regional pericarditis
Brugada syndrome

Brugada syndrome  is  an ECG -Clinical complex in which ST elevation in pre-cardial leads is associated with  ventricular arrhythmia. The defect lies in sodium channel . It reflects  a mis -match between RV and LV epicardial repolarisation forces .It keeps the RV epi-cardial current afloat and  the pre-cardial leads  facing the RV records ST elevation that  mimics  STEMI. It often  shows  a RBBB pattern and varying patterns of ST morphology  . The  ST segment is  also  subjected to dynamism  , due to change in autonomic tone and myocardial temperature  .(Febrile VTs)

After thoughts

Other close contenders for the top 5 slots

Myocarditis

Acute pulmonary embolism

Dissection of aorta

More

  • Acute stroke (Neurogenic ST elevation )
  • Stress cardiomyopathy (Takot Subo )
  • Acute abdominal conditions mimicking inferior STEMI.
  • Panic attacks /Anxiety states / chronic anti psychotic  medications which are known to elevate ST segments.
  • Contusion chest

(Cocaine hearts / Coronary arterial spasm / LV dyskinetic segments  and  LV aneurysms  were not nominees ! )


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