Importance of the great vessels in the genesis of the electrocardiogram.
The electrocardiogram is the graphic representation against time of the difference in potential between points of the body caused by the current field of the heart. To examine the origin of this current field, a method of transforming body surface electrocardiographic data to the epicardial surface has been developed. The computed epicardial current density distributions in 219 patients with acute inferior myocardial infarction showed that, in 89% of patients, the current flow out of the heart during the ST segment came from two regions, not only from the infarction region but also from a region over the great vessels. This findings suggests that current flows from the ischemic region, through the low-resistance pathway provided by the intracavity blood, out the great vessels, and back to the epicardium. A similar pathway has been hypothesized when ischemia caused endocardial ST elevation, such as during a stress test or with unstable angina. To test this hypothesis, a group of patients with ST depression on the 12-lead electrocardiogram, not associated with ST elevation, was examined with body surface mapping. Ninety-four percent of patients had epicardial current density distributions that showed a region of current flow out of the heart and over the great vessels that was consistent with this hypothesis. This could explain the poor localization of coronary artery disease by electrocardiographic techniques when there is ST depression on the body surface.
- Copyright © 1990 by American Heart Association