Prolongation of the QTc interval is seen uniformly during early transmural ischemia

David N Kenigsberg, Sanjaya Khanal, Marcin Kowalski, Subramaniam C Krishnan
Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2007 March 27, 49 (12): 1299-305

OBJECTIVES: In order to more clearly understand the electrocardiographic manifestations of early transmural ischemia, we studied electrocardiograms (ECGs) in patients undergoing balloon angioplasty.

BACKGROUND: Decisions regarding reperfusion strategies in patients with acute myocardial infarction rely largely on the presence of ST-segment elevation (STE) in the ECG, consequently with significant limitations. Studies of the "ischemic cascade" show that ST-segment changes occur well after the onset of wall motion abnormalities.

METHODS: We prospectively analyzed ECGs obtained at 20-s intervals in 74 patients undergoing elective balloon angioplasty. The ECGs were analyzed using 3 methodologies. In 74 patients, the ST-segment, the T-wave, and the QT-interval were analyzed using the MUSE (General Electric HC, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin) automated system (MUSE). Fifty patients were also analyzed using the Interval Editor automated system (IE; General Electric HC). In 20 patients, measurements were made manually.

RESULTS: Transmural ischemia prolonged the QTc interval (using the Bazett's formula) in 100% of patients. In all 74 patients analyzed with MUSE, QTc interval prolonged from 423 +/- 25 ms to 455 +/- 34 ms (p < 0.001). In the 50 patients analyzed with IE, QTc interval prolonged in 50 of 50 (100%) patients (from 424 +/- 27 ms to 458 +/- 33 ms [p < 0.001]). Mean time to maximal QTc interval prolongation, changes in T-wave polarity, > or =1 mm STE, and ST-segment depression (STD) were 22, 24, 29, and 35 s, respectively. Although QTc interval prolonged in 100% of patients, T-wave changes, STE, and STD (> or =1 mm) occurred in 7%, 15%, and 7%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: The QTc interval prolongs in 100% of patients with early transmural ischemia. When compared with clinically accepted indexes of transmural ischemia (i.e., STD and STE [> or =1 mm]) it is the earliest ECG abnormality.

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