Prognostic value of the admission electrocardiogram in acute coronary syndromes

JAMA. 1999 Feb 24;281(8):707-13. doi: 10.1001/jama.281.8.707.


Context: The presence of ischemic changes on electrocardiogram (ECG) correlates with poorer outcomes in patients with acute chest pain.

Objective: To determine the prognostic value of various ECG presentations of acute myocardial ischemia.

Design: Retrospective analysis of the presenting ECGs of patients enrolled in Global Use of Strategies To Open Occluded Arteries in Acute Coronary Syndromes (GUSTO-IIb).

Setting: Three hundred seventy-three hospitals in 13 countries in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Patients: A total of 12142 patients who reported symptoms of cardiac ischemia at rest within 12 hours of admission and had signs of myocardial ischemia confirmed by ECG. On presenting ECG, 22% of patients had T-wave inversion, 28% had ST-segment elevation, 35% had ST-segment depression, and 15% had a combination of ST-segment elevation and depression.

Main outcome measure: Ability of presenting ECG to predict death or myocardial reinfarction during the first 30 days of follow-up.

Results: The 30-day incidence of death or myocardial reinfarction was 5.5% in patients with T-wave inversion, 9.4% in those with ST-segment elevation, 10.5% in those with ST-segment depression, and 12.4% in those with ST-segment elevation and depression (P<.001). After adjusting for factors associated with an increased risk of 30-day death or reinfarction, compared with those who had T-wave inversion only, the odds of 30-day death or reinfarction were 1.68 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.36-2.08) in those with ST-segment elevation, 1.62 (95% CI, 1.32-1.98) for those with ST-segment depression, and 2.27 (95% CI, 1.80-2.86) for those with combined elevation and depression. An elevated creatine kinase level at admission correlated with a higher risk of death (odds ratio [OR], 2.36; 95% CI, 1.92-2.91) and death or reinfarction (OR, 1.56; 95% CI, 1.32-1.85). The ECG category and creatine kinase level at admission remained highly predictive of death and myocardial infarction after multivariate adjustment for the significant baseline predictors of events.

Conclusions: The ECG at presentation allows immediate risk stratification across the spectrum of acute coronary syndromes. An elevated creatine kinase level at admission is associated with worse outcomes.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes
  • Logistic Models
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Myocardial Ischemia / diagnosis
  • Myocardial Ischemia / mortality
  • Myocardial Ischemia / physiopathology*
  • Myocardial Ischemia / therapy
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • North America / epidemiology
  • Patient Admission
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Survival Analysis


  • Isoenzymes
  • Creatine Kinase