You are handed an EKG for a 50 yo man with moderate chest pain for 2 hours now and no associated symptoms typical for ACS, PE, aortic dissection, or any other red flags of chest pain. He has no prior EKG’s on file.

  • Is this early repolarization or ST elevation MI?
  • Should I activate the cardiac catheterization lab?

Image courtesy of Dr. Steve Smith at HQMedEd-ecg.blogspot.com

Here are some great literature-based pearls compiled by Dr. Jason West (@JWestEM), an EM resident from Jacobi/Montefiore.

PV Card: EKG – Early Repolarization vs ST Elevation MI


Adapted from 1–7
Go to the ALiEM Cards site for more resources.

Furthermore, there is a formula to differentiate early repolarization vs STEMI, per Dr. Smith’s publication6:

(1.196 x STE60V3) + (0.059 x QTc) – (0.326 x RA V4)

  • STE60V3 = STE elevation height at 60 msec (1.5 small boxes) after the J-point in lead V3 (mm)
  • QTc = The computer-read QTc interval
  • RA V4 = R wave amplitude in lead V4 (mm)

A result of > 23.4 is predictive of a LAD occlusion causing a STEMI, rather than early repolarization.

P.S. The above EKG image shows early repolarization.

1.
Brady W, Syverud S, Beagle C, et al. Electrocardiographic ST-segment elevation: the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction by morphologic analysis of the ST segment. Acad Emerg Med. 2001;8(10):961-967. [PubMed]
2.
Brady W, Perron A, Syverud S, et al. Reciprocal ST segment depression: impact on the electrocardiographic diagnosis of ST segment elevation acute myocardial infarction. Am J Emerg Med. 2002;20(1):35-38. [PubMed]
3.
Smith S. Upwardly concave ST segment morphology is common in acute left anterior descending coronary occlusion. J Emerg Med. 2006;31(1):69-77. [PubMed]
4.
Larson D, Menssen K, Sharkey S, et al. “False-positive” cardiac catheterization laboratory activation among patients with suspected ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction. JAMA. 2007;298(23):2754-2760. [PubMed]
5.
Nfor T, Kostopoulos L, Hashim H, et al. Identifying false-positive ST-elevation myocardial infarction in emergency department patients. J Emerg Med. 2012;43(4):561-567. [PubMed]
6.
Smith S, Khalil A, Henry T, et al. Electrocardiographic differentiation of early repolarization from subtle anterior ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction. Ann Emerg Med. 2012;60(1):45-56.e2. [PubMed]
7.
Chung S, Lei M, Chen C, Hsu Y, Yang C. Characteristics and prognosis in patients with false-positive ST-elevation myocardial infarction in the ED. Am J Emerg Med. 2013;31(5):825-829. [PubMed]
Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD

@M_Lin

Professor of Emerg Med at UCSF-Zuckerberg San Francisco General. Founder of ALiEM @aliemteam #PostitPearls https://t.co/7v7cgJqNEn
Michelle Lin, MD