Although coronary thrombus overlying a disrupted atherosclerotic plaque has long been considered the hallmark and the primary therapeutic target for acute myocardial infarction (MI), multiple other mechanisms are now known to cause or contribute to MI. It is further recognized that an MI is just one of many types of acute myocardial injury. The Fourth Universal Definition of Myocardial Infarction provides a taxonomy for acute myocardial injury, including 5 subtypes of MI and nonischemic myocardial injury. The diagnosis of MI is reserved for patients with myocardial ischemia as the cause of myocardial injury, whether attributable to acute atherothrombosis (type 1 MI) or supply/demand mismatch without acute atherothrombosis (type 2 MI). Myocardial injury in the absence of ischemia is categorized as acute or chronic nonischemic myocardial injury. However, optimal evaluation and treatment strategies for these etiologically distinct diagnoses have yet to be defined. Herein, we review the epidemiology, risk factor associations, and diagnostic tools that may assist in differentiating between nonischemic myocardial injury, type 1 MI, and type 2 MI. We identify limitations, review new research, and propose a framework for the diagnostic and therapeutic approach for patients who have suspected MI or other causes of myocardial injury.
Keywords: heart injuries; myocardial infarction; myocardial ischemia.