BACKGROUND - Although culprit lesions in ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) cluster in the proximal coronary arteries, their relationship to bifurcations and curvatures, where blood flow is disturbed, is unknown. We hypothesized that (a) culprit lesions localize to disturbed flow distal to bifurcations and curvatures and (b) the distribution of culprit lesions in the left (LCA) and right coronary arteries (RCA) and resulting infarct size are related to the location of bifurcations and curvatures.
METHODS - Emory University's contribution to the National Cardiovascular Data Registry was queried for STEMIs. Using quantitative coronary angiography, the distances from the vessel ostium, major bifurcations, and major curvatures to the culprit lesion were measured in 385 patients.
RESULTS - Culprit lesions were located within 20 mm of a bifurcation in 79% of patients and closer to the bifurcation in the LCA compared with the RCA (7.4 ± 7.3 vs 17.7 ± 14.8 mm, P < .0001). Of RCA culprit lesions, 45% were located within 20 mm of a major curvature. Compared with those in the RCA, culprit lesions in the LCA were located more proximally (24.4 ± 16.5 vs 44.7 ± 28.8 mm, P = .0003) and were associated with larger myocardial infarctions as assessed by peak creatine kinase-MB (208 ± 222 vs 140 ± 153 ng/dL, P = .001) and troponin I (59 ± 62 vs 40 ± 35 ng/dL, P = .0006) and with higher in-hospital mortality (5.2% vs 1.1%, P = .04).
CONCLUSIONS - In patients with STEMI, culprit lesions are frequently located immediately distal to bifurcations and in proximity to major curvatures where disturbed flow is known to occur. This supports the role of wall shear stress in the pathogenesis of STEMI.
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