Managing STEMI Mimics in the Prehospital Environment

Here’s one for the medics in the audience, or anyone interested in the box with the squiggly lines.

ST elevation means acute MI. Or does it? Most medics understand that this isn’t always the case, but many don’t recognize how often it’s not, and looking deeper — sorting out true STEMI from the many non-MI pathologies that also produce ST-elevation — is not the easiest task.

The following is a PowerPoint presentation I produced for use in either continuing education coursework or merely as a standalone reference. The main intended audience is EMS providers at the paramedic level, but most of the information is at least somewhat relevant to all levels of care.

The topic is the recognition and management of “STEMI mimics,” to steal Tom Bouthillet‘s phrase: non-ACS conditions that nevertheless present with signs and symptoms resembling acute MI, particularly ECG changes such as ST segment elevation.

This is best taught by a knowledgeable instructor, but it’s designed to be usable as a self-contained reference for ambitious students; these are info-rich slides, not just graphical accompaniments to a lecture. It does assume a foundational paramedic-level education, as well as a basic understanding of ideas like sensitivity and specificity — a review of our tutorial may be in order. The illustrative ECGs are labeled with “answers” in the slide notes of the PowerPoint versions, although not on the PDF, so that’s probably the best version if this material is new to you.

Although fairly comprehensive, it’s intended as a practical guide for field assessment and treatment, rather than an in-depth examination of the etiology and course of care for every pathology discussed. For additional information, the sources for most of the contentious claims and data are listed on the slides; sources for the more everyday material are available by request. And remember to follow your service’s protocols and understand exactly where and how far you have flexibility to make some of these calls; in many cases, the decisions will be made for you.

There are 192 slides in the full presentation; the most common feedback is that this can make for a very dense and potentially drawn-out class. There is one natural “intermission” point for a break at about the halfway mark, between the introductory discussion on general ideas and before diving into specific and individual mimics. If desired, the course can be broken up further into multiple units or even multiple days.

Feel free to share, redistribute, or use for your own purposes; this is educational material made available without charge or obligation.

[Edit 10/28/12] This presentation was later enhanced into a narrated video lecture

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