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Evaluation of ECG algorithms designed to improve detect of transient myocardial ischemia to minimize false alarms in patients with suspected acute coronary syndrome



Patients hospitalized for suspected acute coronary syndrome (ACS) are at risk for transient myocardial ischemia. During the "rule-out" phase, continuous ECG ST-segment monitoring can identify transient myocardial ischemia, even when asymptomatic. However, current ST-segment monitoring software is vastly underutilized due to false positive alarms, with resultant alarm fatigue. Current ST algorithms may contribute to alarm fatigue because; (1) they are not designed with a delay (minutes), rather alarm to brief spikes (i.e., turning, heart rate changes), and (2) alarm to changes in a single ECG lead, rather than contiguous leads.


This study was designed to determine sensitivity, and specificity, of ST algorithms when accounting for; ST magnitude (100μV vs 200μV), duration, and changes in contiguous ECG leads (i.e., aVL, I, - aVR, II, aVF, III; V1, V2, V3, V4, V5, V6, V6, I).


This was a secondary analysis from the COMPARE Study, which assessed occurrence rates for transient myocardial ischemia in hospitalized patients with suspected ACS using 12-lead Holter. Transient myocardial ischemia was identified from Holter using >100μV ST-segment ↑ or ↓, in >1 ECG lead, >1min. Algorithms tested against Holter transient myocardial ischemia were done using the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) ECG algorithm and included: (1)100μV vs 200μV any lead during a 5-min ST average; (2)100μV vs 200μV any lead >5min, (3) 100μV vs 200μV any lead during a 5-min ST average in contiguous leads, and (4) 100μV vs 200μV>5min in contiguous leads (Table below).


In 361 patients; mean age 63+12years, 63% male, 56% prior CAD, 43 (11%) had transient myocardial ischemia. Of the 43 patients with transient myocardial ischemia, 17 (40%) had ST-segment elevation events, and 26 (60%) ST-segment depression events. A higher proportion of patients with ST segment depression has missed ischemic events. Table shows sensitivity and specificity for the four algorithms tested.


Sensitivity was highly variable, due to the ST threshold selected, with the 100μV measurement point being superior to the 200μV amplitude threshold. Of all the algorithms tested, there was moderate sensitivity and specificity (70% and 68%) using the 100μV ST-segment threshold, integrated ST-segment changes in contiguous leads during a 5-min average.

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