Acute myocardial infarction (AMI) is a common diagnosis in hospitalized patients in industrialized countries. In the United States, ~605,000 patients experience a new AMI, and 200,000 experience a recurrent AMI each year. About half of AMI-related deaths occur before the stricken individual reaches the hospital. Of note, the in-hospital mortality rate after admission for AMI has declined from 10 to ~5%. The 1-year mortality rate after AMI is ~15%. Mortality is approximately fourfold higher in elderly patients (aged >75) as compared with younger patients.
When patients with prolonged ischemic discomfort at rest are first seen, the working clinical diagnosis is that they are suffering from an acute coronary syndrome (Fig. 275-1). The 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) is a pivotal diagnostic and triage tool because it is at the center of the decision pathway for management, permitting distinction of those patients presenting with ST-segment elevation from those presenting without ST-segment elevation. Serum cardiac biomarkers are obtained to distinguish unstable angina (UA) from non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI) and to assess the magnitude of an ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). Epidemiologic studies indicate there has been a shift in the pattern of AMI over the past several decades with more patients with NSTEMI than STEMI. This chapter focuses on the evaluation and management of patients with STEMI, while Chap. 274 discusses UA/NSTEMI.
Acute coronary syndromes. Following disruption of a vulnerable plaque, patients experience ischemic discomfort resulting from a reduction of flow through the affected epicardial coronary artery. The flow reduction may be caused by a completely occlusive thrombus (right) or subtotally occlusive thrombus (left). Patients with ischemic discomfort may present with or without ST-segment elevation. Of patients with ST-segment elevation, the majority (wide red arrow) ultimately develop a Q wave on the ECG (Qw MI), while a minority (thin red arrow) do not develop Q wave and, in older literature, were said to have sustained a non-Q-wave MI (NQMI). Patients who present without ST-segment elevation are suffering from either unstable angina or a non-ST-segment elevation MI (NSTEMI) (wide green arrows), a distinction that is ultimately made based on the presence or absence of a serum cardiac biomarker such as CK-MB or a cardiac troponin detected in the blood. The majority of patients presenting with NSTEMI do not develop a Q wave on the ECG; a minority develop a Qw MI (thin green arrow). Dx, diagnosis; ECG, electrocardiogram; MI, myocardial infarction. (Adapted from CW Hamm et al: Lancet 358:1533, 2001, and MJ Davies: Heart 83:361, 2000; from the BMJ Publishing Group.)
PATHOPHYSIOLOGY: ROLE OF ACUTE PLAQUE RUPTURE
STEMI usually occurs when coronary blood flow decreases abruptly after a thrombotic occlusion of a coronary artery previously affected by atherosclerosis. Slowly developing, high-grade coronary artery stenoses do not ...