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Gepubliceerd in: Netherlands Heart Journal 9/2018

Open Access 02-08-2018 | Rhythm Puzzle – Answer

A peek behind the curtain

Auteurs: M. Kamali-Sadeghian, P. T. G. Bot, R. Tukkie, H. J. Wellens, D. J. van Doorn

Gepubliceerd in: Netherlands Heart Journal | Uitgave 9/2018

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Answer

The electrocardiogram (ECG) on admission shows atrial fibrillation with slow ventricular response of 42 beats/min. In some QRS complexes, prominent biphasic T waves are seen in the precordial leads V1–V4 (Fig. 1). This Wellens’ ECG sign is suggestive of critical proximal left anterior descending (LAD) stenosis [1]. The electrocardiographic features are characterised by either biphasic T waves or the more common deep T‑wave inversion in the anteroseptal leads. Furthermore, precordial ST-segment deviation, pathological Q waves and poor R‑wave progression should be absent. These ominous T‑wave inversions mostly occur in patients with a history of angina in a pain-free period, whereas angina can cause “pseudonormalisation” of the T waves [2].
Although the underlying mechanism remains elusive, it has been postulated that myocardial stunning due to oedema causes intramyocardial repolarisation inhomogeneity resulting in characteristic inversed or biphasic T waves [3]. Interestingly, the present ECG shows that the typical Wellens’ pattern only occurs after a long R‑R interval and thus a prolonged diastolic filling time, whereas rather short R‑R intervals are followed by normalised T waves. This phenomenon is presumably explained by the intermittent increase in left ventricular end-diastolic pressure impairing coronary perfusion and causing maximal ischaemia during contraction after a long R‑R interval with a large stroke volume.
In this patient, an emergent coronary angiogram indeed revealed a subtotal stenosis of the proximal LAD (Fig. 2). This lesion was successfully treated with the placement of a drug-eluting stent.
This case underlines that early recognition and urgent revascularisation is imperative in patients with Wellens’ syndrome, as delay in intervention may lead to anterior myocardial infarction [1].

Conflict of interest

M. Kamali-Sadeghian, P.T.G. Bot, R. Tukkie, H.J. Wellens and D.J. van Doorn declare that they have no competing interests.
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://​creativecommons.​org/​licenses/​by/​4.​0/​), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
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Literatuur
1.
go back to reference de Zwaan C, Bar FW, Wellens HJ. Characteristic electrocardiographic pattern indicating a critical stenosis high in left anterior descending coronary artery in patients admitted because of impending myocardial infarction. Am Heart J. 1982;103:730–6. CrossRefPubMed de Zwaan C, Bar FW, Wellens HJ. Characteristic electrocardiographic pattern indicating a critical stenosis high in left anterior descending coronary artery in patients admitted because of impending myocardial infarction. Am Heart J. 1982;103:730–6. CrossRefPubMed
2.
go back to reference Rhinehardt J, Brady WJ, Perron AD, Mattu A. Electrocardiographic manifestations of Wellens’ syndrome. Am J Emerg Med. 2002;20(7):638–43. CrossRefPubMed Rhinehardt J, Brady WJ, Perron AD, Mattu A. Electrocardiographic manifestations of Wellens’ syndrome. Am J Emerg Med. 2002;20(7):638–43. CrossRefPubMed
Metagegevens
Titel
A peek behind the curtain
Auteurs
M. Kamali-Sadeghian
P. T. G. Bot
R. Tukkie
H. J. Wellens
D. J. van Doorn
Publicatiedatum
02-08-2018
Uitgeverij
Bohn Stafleu van Loghum
Gepubliceerd in
Netherlands Heart Journal / Uitgave 9/2018
Print ISSN: 1568-5888
Elektronisch ISSN: 1876-6250
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12471-018-1138-9