Non–ST-segment myocardial infarction (NSTEMI) can be complicated by high-degree atrioventricular (AV) block, asystole, or electromechanical dissociation (EMD), but these events are not well characterized in the contemporary era. This analysis assesses the incidence of and factors associated with these dysrhythmias in acute NSTEMIs.
Patients with NSTEMI in the EARLY ACS, PLATO, and TRACER trials were included in the pooled cohort (N = 29,677). Logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with in-hospital high-degree AV block and asystole or EMD, and Kaplan-Meier methods were used to assess mortality.
High-degree AV block occurred in 112 (0.4%) patients, asystole in 157 (0.5%), and EMD in 38 (0.1%). Pacemakers were inserted in 241 patients (0.8%) during the index hospitalization: 30 (12%) for AV block. Among patients with high-degree AV block, we observed more frequent right coronary artery lesions (47% vs 29%). Age, diabetes, lower heart rate, and lower blood pressure were associated with high-degree AV block. Higher Killip class, ST-segment depression, prior myocardial infarction, and peripheral vascular disease were most strongly associated with asystole or EMD. Ten-day unadjusted survival was 90% for patients with high-degree AV block and 43% for those with asystole or EMD.
Although high-degree AV block, asystole, and EMD were infrequent complications of NSTEMI, they were associated with substantial short-term mortality. Only 1 in 8 pacemakers placed in NSTEMI patients during the acute hospitalization was for high-degree AV block.