Myocardial injury is common in patients without acute coronary syndrome, and international guidelines recommend patients with myocardial infarction are classified by aetiology. The universal definition differentiates patients with myocardial infarction due to plaque rupture (type 1) from those due to myocardial oxygen supply-demand imbalance (type 2) secondary to other acute illnesses. Patients with myocardial necrosis, but no symptoms or signs of myocardial ischaemia, are classified as acute or chronic myocardial injury. This classification has not been widely adopted in practice, because the diagnostic criteria for type 2 myocardial infarction encompass a wide range of presentations, and the implications of the diagnosis are uncertain. However, both myocardial injury and type 2 myocardial infarction are common, occurring in more than one-third of all hospitalised patients. These patients have poor short-term and long-term outcomes with two-thirds dead in 5 years. The classification of patients with myocardial infarction continues to evolve, and future guidelines are likely to recognise the importance of identifying coronary artery disease in type 2 myocardial infarction. Clinicians should consider whether coronary artery disease has contributed to myocardial injury, as selected patients are likely to benefit from further investigation and in these patients targeted secondary prevention has the potential to improve outcomes.
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