The initial electrocardiogram in patients seen by a mobile coronary care unit

Q J Med. 1991 Mar;78(287):227-33.


The advent of thrombolytic therapy for patients with suspected acute myocardial infarction has highlighted the importance of the initial electrocardiogram (ECG) in decision making. Thus we analysed the initial ECGs of 94 consecutive cases with suspected myocardial infarction who were seen within six hours after the onset of chest pain by a mobile coronary care unit. The study included 91 patients (three patients admitted twice) (61 male), aged 27-83 years (mean 60.5). Median time from onset of chest pain to arrival of the mobile coronary care unit was 75 minutes (range 15-345), and mean mobile coronary care unit response time was 12.3 +/- 7 (SD) minutes (range 5-45). The majority of cases (65 of 94, 69.1 per cent) were seen within two hours of the onset of symptoms. A final diagnosis of myocardial infarction was made in 48 of 94 (51.1 per cent) cases; 38 had unstable angina and eight other diagnoses. Of the 48 with myocardial infarction the initial ECG showed ST segment elevation in 37, ST depression and or T wave inversion in six, Q waves only in three and left bundle branch block in two. No patient with an initially normal ECG had a myocardial infarction. Thrombolytic therapy was given out of hospital to 33 of 38 patients with ST segment elevation. In seven patients with ST elevation (median delay time to intensive care 60 minutes), rapid resolution of ST segment elevation occurred following thrombolytic therapy and there was no significant elevation of cardiac enzymes, suggesting that the infarct had been aborted.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulances*
  • Coronary Care Units*
  • Electrocardiography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis*
  • Myocardial Infarction / drug therapy
  • Northern Ireland
  • Prospective Studies
  • Thrombolytic Therapy*
  • Time Factors