Mechanical, inflammatory, and embolic complications of myocardial infarction: An emergency medicine review

Published:April 08, 2019DOI:



      Despite the declining incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) in the United States, acute myocardial infarction (AMI) remains an important clinical entity, with many patients requiring emergency department (ED) management for mechanical, inflammatory, and embolic complications.


      This narrative review provides an evidence-based summary of the current data for the emergency medicine evaluation and management of post myocardial infarction mechanical, inflammatory, and embolic complications.


      While 30-day mortality rate after AMI has decreased in the past two decades, it remains significantly elevated at 7.8%, owing to a wide variety of subacute complications evolving over weeks. Mechanical complications such as ventricular free wall rupture, ventricular septal rupture, mitral valve regurgitation, and formation of left ventricular aneurysms carry significant morbidity. Additional complications include ischemic stroke, heart failure, renal failure, and cardiac dysrhythmias. This review provides several guiding principles for management of these complications. Understanding these complications and an approach to the management of various complications is essential to optimizing patient care.


      Mechanical, inflammatory, and embolic complications of AMI can result in significant morbidity and mortality. Physicians must rapidly diagnose these conditions while evaluating for other diseases. In addition to understanding the natural progression of disease and performing a focused physical examination, an electrocardiogram and bedside echocardiogram provide quick, noninvasive determinations of the underlying pathophysiology. Management varies by presentation and etiology, but close consultation with cardiology and cardiac surgery is recommended.


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