Research Article| Volume 162, ISSUE 2, P107-111, January 10, 2013

The delayed activation wave in non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction



      Little is known about the relationship between the electrocardiographic characteristics and the infarct related artery (IRA) in non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). We found a curious phenomenon in electrocardiograms of patients with acute occlusion of left circumflex artery in NSTEM: A notch or deflection was often present in the terminal QRS complex in leads II,III and aVF or I,aVL . The objective of this study was to determine whether the previously unreported ECG phenomenon that we have found in NSTEMI could identify the culprit artery in non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction.

      Methods and Results

      Our study included 218 NSTEMI patients who presented to our institution and underwent coronary angiography within 24 hours of admission. For convenience, ‘N’ wave was defined as a notch or deflection in the terminal QRS complex of the surface ECG. The duration of QRS with N wave before PCI was more prolonged than the duration of QRS without N wave (121±12 ms vs 106±11 ms, P<0.01). In the LCX group, 66(77%) patients had N wave in leads II, III and aVF, whereas only 5(6%) patients in the LAD group and 9(18%) patients in the RCA group had such ECG feature (P<0.001). A greater proportion of patients in the LCX group also had N waves in leads I and aVL (P<0.001). N wave in leads II, III and aVF was associated with 77% sensitivity and 89% specificity, respectively. N wave in leads I and aVL was associated with 64% sensitivity and 96% specificity, respectively.


      The abnormal waveform in terminal QRS complex in NSTEMI ,which is described above, is the delayed activation wave of left ventricular basal region which the left circumflex artery supplies. It is associated with a higher specificity and higher sensitivity for culprit LCX in non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction. The delayed activation wave is a new pattern of ischemia in ECG.


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