Pulmonary embolism presenting as st-elevation myocardial infarction: A diagnostic trap

Ayesha Siddiqa, Asim Haider, Abhishrut Jog, Bing Yue, Nassim R. Krim

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4 Scopus citations


Objective: Background: Case Report: Conclusions: Challenging differential diagnosis The clinical presentation of pulmonary embolism (PE) is highly variable, ranging from no symptoms to shock or sudden death, often making the diagnosis a challenge. An electrocardiogram (EKG) is not a definitive diagnostic tool; however, it can alter the clinical suspicion of acute PE. PE has nonspecific electrocardiographic pat-terns ranging from a normal EKG in almost 33% of patients to sinus tachycardia, S1Q3T3 pattern (McGinn-White Sign), right axis deviation, and incomplete right bundle branch block (RBBB). ST-segment elevation associated with PE is exceedingly rare, and to date, only a few cases have been reported. We present a case of a middle-aged male patient with no medical comorbidities other than obesity, who presented with initial symptoms and EKG findings concerning an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). He was later found to have rather patent coronary arteries on cardiac catheterization but bilateral sub-massive pulmonary embolism on computed tomography angiogram (CTA) of the chest. The differential diagnosis of STEMI is broad, including, but not limited to, Prinzmetal’s angina, takotsubo car-diomyopathy, Brugada syndrome, left ventricular aneurysm, hypothermia, hyperkalemia, and acute pericardi-tis. Pulmonary embolism may present with abnormal EKG and biomarkers that appear to be an acute coronary syndrome, even STEMI. Physicians must maintain a high index of clinical suspicion through risk stratification to identify PE in these settings, as the frequency of such an occurrence is extremely low. A bedside echocar-diogram can be an invaluable diagnostic tool in such cases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere927923
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Case Reports
StatePublished - 2020


  • Acute Coronary Syndrome
  • Electrocardiography
  • Pulmonary Embolism


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