Early repolarization

Clin Cardiol. 1999 Feb;22(2):59-65. doi: 10.1002/clc.4960220203.


Early repolarization (ER) is an enigma. The purpose of this review is to reemphasize the overall electrocardiographic (ECG) pattern of this normal ST variant which continues to challenge the clinician because of its similarity to the current of injury potential to myocardium or an acute pericarditis. The data were provided from the studies identified through computerized searches of Medline, Toxline, Oxford, Agricola, and Bios Afterdark, Cumulative index, and a review of bibliographies of relevant articles on the related subjects. Early repolarization has elevated, upward, concave ST segments, located commonly in precordial leads, with reciprocal depression in a VR, tall, peaked and slightly asymmetrical T waves with notch, and slur on the R wave. The other accompanying features in the ECG are vertical axis, shorter and depressed P-R interval, abrupt transition, counterclockwise rotation, presence of U waves, and sinus bradycardia. Males dominate and patients are often younger than 50 years of age. The incidence of 1 to 2% is found equally common in all races. Degree and incidence of ST elevation decrease as age advances. Exercise or isoproterenol administration may normalize the ST segment. Early repolarization is a benign condition. If the ECG conforms to a classical pattern of ER on serial ECGs, it would exclude the unnecessary hazards of present day revascularization therapy for myocardial infarction such as primary angioplasty or thrombolytic therapy, or aggressive management of acute pericarditis, and so forth. This review concludes with a discussion of comparative ECG features of ER, pericarditis, and myocardial infarction, and provides an algorithm for diagnostic management of patients suffering from these conditions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Chest Pain / diagnosis*
  • Chest Pain / etiology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electrocardiography*
  • Humans
  • Myocardial Infarction / complications
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis
  • Myocardial Infarction / physiopathology*
  • Myocardial Revascularization
  • Pericarditis / complications
  • Pericarditis / diagnosis
  • Pericarditis / physiopathology*
  • Thrombolytic Therapy