Objective: To assess the effect of patency of the infarct-related artery and the presence of late potentials on late cardiac mortality after myocardial infarction. Material and Methods: We studied the influence of the infarct-related artery patency and the presence of late potentials during signal-averaged electrocardiography on late mortality in 124 survivors of acute myocardial infarction. In addition, we assessed predictive factors of cardiac mortality by univariate and multivariate statistical analysis. Results: A study group of 98 men and 26 women (mean age, 59 years) who were survivors of acute myocardial infarction underwent follow-up for a mean of 3.6 ± 1.0 years. Immediate reperfusion therapy (thrombolysis or direct angioplasty) was accomplished in 71 patients (57%). During follow-up, 13 cardiac-associated deaths occurred. Infarct-related artery patency was strongly associated with improved survival, but the presence of late potentials did not correlate with increased mortality, even among patients with impaired left ventricular function. Univariate and multivariate analyses identified occluded infarct-related arteries, prior myocardial infarction, reduced left ventricular ejection fraction, and advanced age, but not late potentials, as predictors of increased late cardiac mortality. Conclusion: These data suggest that coronary angiography may, but signal-averaged electrocardiography may not, identify patients with increased late risk of cardiac-related death after myocardial infarction. The low mortality among patients who have undergone successful reperfusion therapy may reduce the ability of noninvasive tests to distinguish between high- and low-risk patients.
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