The association of chest pain duration and other historical features with major adverse cardiac events

Am J Emerg Med. 2020 Jul;38(7):1377-1383. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2019.11.020. Epub 2019 Nov 20.


Objective: We sought to determine if the duration of pain or other features of the history predict major adverse cardiac events (MACE) in patients with chest pain in the emergency department (ED).

Methods: This was a prospective cohort study of patients presenting to a single ED with chest pain. Consenting patients filled out a survey about their symptoms. After 6 weeks, we assessed patients for MACE via chart review and direct contact. We used this data to calculate the likelihood ratios (LRs) of a number of historical features for acute myocardial infarction (MI) (primary endpoint) and MACE within 6 weeks (secondary endpoint). We planned a priori to analyze patients who reported chest pain for ≤1 min or continuously for ≥24 h.

Results: We enrolled 1002 patients, and 83.6% had successful 6-week follow up. Regarding chest pain lasting for ≤1 min, the positive LR was 0.95 (95% CI 0.24 to 3.80) for acute MI and 0.67 (95% CI 0.17 to 2.72) for MACE within 6 weeks. The positive LRs of continuous pain lasting ≥24 h for acute MI and MACE within 6 weeks were 0.15 (95% CI 0.04 to 0.58) and 0.36 (95% CI 0.18 to 0.74), respectively. Amongst other historical features assessed, radiation to the right arm was the strongest positive predictor of acute MI.

Conclusion: Patients with continuous chest pain for ≥24 h are unlikely to have an acute MI. Chest pain lasting ≤1 min does not exclude acute MI.

Keywords: Chest pain history; Duration of pain; Myocardial infarction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chest Pain / physiopathology*
  • Coronary Artery Bypass / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology*
  • Myocardial Revascularization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Percutaneous Coronary Intervention / statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology