Open infarct artery, late potentials, and other prognostic factors in patients after acute myocardial infarction in the thrombolytic era. A prospective trial.
BACKGROUND Successful reperfusion of the infarct-related artery in patients with acute myocardial infarction has been shown to reduce in-hospital as well as 1-year mortality. Besides the thrombolysis-induced myocardial salvage, there is increasing evidence that an open infarct-related artery results in increased electrical stability of the heart and that this effect is at least in part responsible for the favorable long-term outcome of these patients. The exact incidence of arrhythmic events during the first year after myocardial infarction and the predictive value of different risk factors for these complications, however, have not been determined in patients in the thrombolytic era.
METHODS AND RESULTS A total of 173 patients with acute myocardial infarction, 51% treated with thrombolysis, were prospectively entered into the study. At the time of hospital discharge, signal-averaged ECG, Holter monitoring, radionuclide angiography, coronary angiography, and levocardiography were performed in all patients. An open infarct-related artery was documented in 136 patients. The overall incidence of late potentials was 24% (41 patients). By multivariate analysis, an occluded infarct-related artery (P = .04) and the presence of regional wall motion abnormalities (P = .02) were the strongest independent predictors for the development of a late potential. Residual ischemia was treated by either percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty or surgery in 86 of 173 patients (50%). Seventy percent of the patients received beta-blocker therapy. During a mean follow-up of 12 +/- 5 months, 7 patients died suddenly or had ventricular fibrillation documented, while only 2 developed sustained monomorphic ventricular tachycardia. Overall 1-year mortality was 4.1%. Multivariate analysis revealed only an occluded infarct-related artery as an independent predictor of arrhythmic complications (P = .017).
CONCLUSIONS In patients with acute myocardial infarction treated according to contemporary therapeutic guidelines, with a large proportion of individuals undergoing coronary artery revascularization, a low incidence of arrhythmic events, particularly of ventricular tachycardia, was observed in the first year after the index infarction. The presence or absence of an open infarct-related artery was the strongest independent predictor of these events, whereas other traditional risk factors, such as late potentials, were less helpful in identifying patients prone to sudden death. These findings emphasize the importance of the open artery hypothesis in patients recovering from acute myocardial infarction.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association