Chest Pain Severity Rating Is a Poor Predictive Tool in the Diagnosis of ST-Segment Elevation Myocardial Infarction

Crit Pathw Cardiol. 2021 Jun 1;20(2):88-92. doi: 10.1097/HPC.0000000000000241.


Current ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) guidelines require persistent electrocardiogram ST-segment elevation, cardiac enzyme changes, and symptoms of myocardial ischemia. Chest pain is the determinant symptom, often measured using an 11-point scale (0-10). Greater severity of chest pain is presumed to be associated with a stronger likelihood of a true positive STEMI diagnosis. This retrospective observational cohort study considered consecutive STEMI patients from May 02, 2009 to December 31, 2018. Analysis of standard STEMI metrics included positive electrocardiogram-to-device and first medical contact-to-device times, presence of comorbidities, false-positive diagnosis, 30-day and 1-year mortality, and 30-day readmission. Chest pain severity was assessed upon admission to the primary percutaneous coronary intervention hospital. We analyzed 1409 STEMI activations (69% male, 66.3 years old ± 13.7 years). Of these, 251 (17.8%) had no obstructive lesion, consistent with false-positive STEMI. Four hundred sixty-six (33.1%) reported chest pain rating of 0 on admission, 378 (26.8%) reported mild pain (1-3), 300 (21.3%) moderate (4-6), and 265 (18.8%) severe (7-10). Patients presenting without chest pain had a significantly higher rate of false-positive STEMI diagnosis. Increasing chest pain severity was associated with decreased time from first medical contact to device, and decreased in-hospital, 30-day and 1-year mortality. Severity of chest pain on admission did not correlate to the likelihood of a true-positive STEMI diagnosis, although it was associated with improved patient prognosis, in the form of improved outcomes, and shorter times to reperfusion.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chest Pain / diagnosis
  • Chest Pain / epidemiology
  • Chest Pain / etiology
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Percutaneous Coronary Intervention*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction* / complications
  • ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction* / diagnosis