Hiccups as the only symptom of non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction

Am J Emerg Med. 2012 Jan;30(1):266.e1-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2010.12.004. Epub 2011 Jan 28.


Hiccups, which are usually benign and self-limited, occasionally serve as markers of a serious underlying pathology. We present this case report to inform emergency physicians about the potential for hiccups to serve as the only presenting symptom of a myocardial infarction. The patient, a 68-year-old man with a history of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and current tobacco use, was first seen in the emergency department after 4 days of intractable hiccups with no other complaints or symptoms. After ineffective hiccup treatment on the first visit with 2 mg Ativan and 25 intramuscular (i.m.) thorazine and a normal chest x-ray, he was discharged. Two days later, the patient returned to the emergency department with the same complaint of hiccups without any additional complaints or symptoms. An electrocardiogram displayed several abnormalities including Q waves in II, III, and aVF and T-wave inversions in aVL and V6. Troponin I was highly elevated at 4.302 ng/mL. In the catheterization laboratory, the patient exhibited severe stenosis of the left circumflex artery and obtuse marginal 1. Stents were placed in these sites, and the patient recovered uneventfully. This is the first case in which hiccups were the single presenting symptom of a myocardial infarction in the last 50 years. Although extremely common and usually benign, hiccups can occasionally be a sole symptom of serious underlying pathology, which in this case, was a non–ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Electrocardiography
  • Hiccup / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myocardial Infarction / complications*
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis
  • Myocardial Infarction / physiopathology