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      Significance of a fragmented QRS complex versus a Q wave in patients with coronary artery disease.


      Sensitivity and Specificity, Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon, diagnosis, Electrocardiography, Coronary Artery Disease, methods, standards, Exercise Test, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Myocardial Infarction, Predictive Value of Tests, Aged, Cohort Studies

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          Q waves on a 12-lead ECG are markers of a prior myocardial infarction (MI). However, they may regress or even disappear over time, and there is no specific ECG sign of a non-Q-wave MI. Fragmented QRS complexes (fQRSs), which include various RSR' patterns, without a typical bundle-branch block are markers of altered ventricular depolarization owing to a prior myocardial scar. We postulated that the presence of an fQRS might improve the ability to detect a prior MI compared with Q waves alone by ECG. A cohort of 479 consecutive patients (mean+/-SD age, 58.2+/-13.2 years; 283 males) who were referred for nuclear stress tests was studied. The fQRS included various morphologies of the QRS (<120 ms), which included an additional R wave (R') or notching in the nadir of the S wave, or >1 R' (fragmentation) in 2 contiguous leads, corresponding to a major coronary artery territory. The Q wave was present in 71 (14.8%) patients, an fQRS was present in 191 (34.9%) patients, and an fQRS and/or a Q wave was present in 203 (42.3%) patients. Sensitivity, specificity, and the negative predictive value for myocardial scar as detected by single photon emission computed tomography analysis were 36.3%, 99.2%, and 70.8%, respectively, for the Q wave alone; 85.6%, 89%, and 92.7%, respectively, for the fQRS; and 91.4%, 89%, and 94.2%, respectively, for the Q wave and/or fQRS. The fQRS on a 12-lead ECG is a marker of a prior MI, defined by regional perfusion abnormalities, which has a substantially higher sensitivity and negative predictive value compared with the Q wave.

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