Case report and systematic review of pulmonary embolism mimicking ST-elevation myocardial infarction

Pedro A. Villablanca, Peter P. Vlismas, Tatsiana Aleksandrovich, Arthur Omondi, Tanush Gupta, David F. Briceno, Mario J. Garcia, Jose Wiley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: To study trends in the clinical presentation, electrocardiograms, and diagnostic imaging in patients with pulmonary embolism presenting as ST segment elevation. Methods: We performed a systematic literature search for all reported cases of pulmonary embolism mimicking ST-elevation myocardial infarction. Pre-specified data such as clinical presentation, electrocardiogram changes, transthoracic echocardiographic findings, cardiac biomarkers, diagnostic imaging, therapy, and outcomes were collected. Results: We identified a total of 34 case reports. There were 23 males. Mean age of the population was 56.5 ± 15.5 years. Patients presented with dyspnea (76.4%), chest pain (63.6%), and tachycardia (71.4%). All patients presented with ST-elevations, with the most common location being in the anterior-septal distribution, lead V3 (74%), V2 (71%), V1 (62%) and V4 (47%). ST-segment elevations in the inferior distribution were present in lead II (12%), III (18%), and aVF (21%). Presentation was least likely in the lateral distribution. Troponin was elevated in 78.9% of cases. Right ventricular strain was the most common echocardiographic finding. Over 80% of patients had findings consistent with elevated right ventricular pressure, with 50% reported RV dilatation and 20% RV hypokinesis. The most commonly used imaging modality was contrast-enhanced pulmonary angiography. There was a greater incidence of bilateral compared to unilateral pulmonary emboli (72.4% vs. 10%). About 65% patients received anticoagulation and 36.3% were treated with thrombolytics. Forty-six percent of patients required intensive care and 18.7% intubation. Overall mortality was 25.8%. Conclusions: A review of the literature reveals that in patients presenting with pulmonary embolism, electrocardiogram findings of ST-segment elevations will occur predominantly in the anterior-septal distribution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-97
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • Pulmonary embolism
  • ST-elevations
  • meta-analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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