Last edited 11/2021 and last reviewed 11/2021
Myocardial infarction is the main cause of death in Western societies (1).
Myocardial infarction is considered as part of a spectrum referred to as acute coronary syndrome, which refers to a range of acute myocardial ischaemia that also includes unstable angina and non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI).
- the criteria for diagnosing myocardial infarction are detection of rise
and/or fall of cardiac biomarkers (preferably troponin) with at least one
value above the 99th percentile of the upper reference limit, together with
evidence of myocardial ischaemia with at least one of the following (2)
- symptoms of ischaemia
- electrocardiogram (ECG) changes indicative of new ischaemia (new ST-T changes or new left bundle branch block (LBBB))
- development of pathological Q wave changes in the ECG
- imaging evidence of new loss of viable myocardium or new regional wall motion abnormality
A myocardial infarction that has associated ST elevation is defined as a STEMI (ST segment elevation myocardial infarction). Before the use of the term acute coronary syndrome (and use of more sensitive cardiac markers such as troponin), this was what was previously diagnosed as a myocardial infarction.
ST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) occurs when a coronary artery becomes blocked by a blood clot, causing the heart muscle supplied by the artery to die (3)
- incidence of STEMI has been declining over the past 20 years. It varies
between regions and averages around 500 hospitalised episodes per million
people each year in the UK.
- the London Ambulance Service attended 9657 cardiac arrests in 2011-12 for a population of around 8.2 million people (1177 per million people). Most of these will have been attributed to acute coronary syndromes, so the overall population prevalence of STEMI is likely to be in the region of 750-1250 per million people
- over the past 30 years, in-hospital mortality after acute coronary syndromes has fallen from around 20% to nearer 5%. This has been attributed to various factors, including improved drug therapy and speed of access to effective treatments
- nearly half of potentially salvageable myocardium is lost within 1 hour of the coronary artery being occluded, and two-thirds are lost within 3 hours. Apart from resuscitation from any cardiac arrest, the highest priority in managing STEMI is to restore an adequate coronary blood flow as quickly as possible.
- incidence of STEMI has been declining over the past 20 years. It varies between regions and averages around 500 hospitalised episodes per million people each year in the UK.
About 30% of people who die of a myocardial infarction do so before reaching hospital (4).
Cardiogenic shock occurs in up to 10% of patients immediately following acute myocardial infarction and is associated with mortality rates of nearly 40% at 30 days and 50% at 1 year (8).
- (1) NICE (May 2007). Secondary prevention in primary and secondary care for patients following a myocardial infarction
- (2) NICE (March 2010). Assessment and diagnosis of recent onset chest pain or discomfort of suspected cardiac origin
- (3) NICE (July 2013). Myocardial infarction with STsegment elevation - The acute management of myocardial infarction with ST-segment elevation
- (4) British Heart Foundation Factfile (2006).Delays in Treatment for Acute Myocardial Infarction.
- (5) Pocock S, Bueno H, Licour M, Medina J, Zhang L, Annemans L, Danchin N, Huo Y, Van de Werf F. Eur Heart J Acute Cardiovasc Care. 2015 Dec; 4(6):509-17. Epub 2014 Oct 9.
- (6) Pocock SJ et al.Predicting two-year mortality from discharge after acute coronary syndrome: An internationally-based risk score.Eur Heart J Acute Cardiovasc Care. 2019 Dec; 8(8):727-737. Epub 2017 Aug 4.
- (7) Jernberg T, Hasvold P, Henriksson M, Hjelm H, Thuresson M, Janzon M. Cardiovascular risk in post-myocardial infarction patients: nationwide real world data demonstrate the importance of a long-term perspective. Eur Heart J. 2015;36:1163-1170
- (8) Samsky MD, Morrow DA, Proudfoot AG, Hochman JS, Thiele H, Rao SV. Cardiogenic Shock After Acute Myocardial Infarction: A Review. JAMA. 2021;326(18):1840-1850. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.18323