The experimental evidence relating ST segment elevation in the electrocardiogram to the progress and extent of ischaemic myocardial damage is discussed. There are difficulties in applying this to patients: the reproducibility of praecordial mapping was tested using a multiple analysis of variance. This showed that factors such as time after the onset of myocardial infarction and posture can affect measurements of sigmaST elevation significantly. There was a pattern of changes in segmaST elevation and of changes in plasma MB CK activity in a group of patients with uncomplicated anterior infarction. A significant byt weak correlation was found between sigmaST elevation in the first hour and the total MB CK activity released into the plasma, but not at any other time. The use of sigmaST elevation as a measure of the extent of ischaemic damage is unreliable. In 5 patients with a variety of complications of acute anterior infarction, changes in sigmaST elevation werr significantly different from the uncomplicated group, and MB CK release profiles suggested further necrosis. The pattern and time course of ST segment changes may be of use in assessing the progress of ischaemic myocardial damage.
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