Background: A simple clinical method to stratify risk for patients who have had successful reperfusion therapy after myocardial infarction is attractive since it facilitates the tailoring of therapy.
Methods: We investigated the clinical value of the 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG), in 403 patients after successful reperfusion therapy by primary coronary angioplasty, in relation to infarct size measured by enzyme activity, left-ventricular function, and clinical outcome. ECGs were analysed to find the extent of the ST-segment-elevation resolution 1 h after reperfusion therapy.
Findings: A normalised ST segment was seen in 51% of patients, a partly normalised ST segment in 34%, and 15% had no ST-segment-elevation resolution. Enzymatic infarct size and ejection fraction were related to the extent of the early resolution of the ST segment. The relative risk of death among patients with no resolution compared with patients with a normalised ST segment was 8.7 (95% CI 3.7-20.1), and that among patients with partial resolution compared with patients with a normalised ST segment was 3.6 (1.6-8.3).
Interpretation: Our findings suggest that ECG patterns reflect the effectiveness of myocardial reperfusion. Patients for whom reperfusion therapy by primary angioplasty was successful and who had normalised ST segments had limited damage to the myocardium and an excellent outlook during follow-up. Patients with persistent ST elevation after reperfusion therapy may need additional interventions since they have more extensive myocardial damage and have a higher mortality rate.