OBJECTIVES: To determine the frequency of urgent coronary angiography in patients with acute pericarditis and to examine clinical characteristics associated with coronary angiography. PATIENTS AND METHODS: This is a retrospective analysis of all incident cases of acute viral or idiopathic pericarditis evaluated at Mayo Clinic's site in Rochester, MN, between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2006. The main outcome measures were use of urgent coronary angiography and rate of concomitant coronary artery disease in patients with pericarditis. RESULTS: There were 238 patients with a final diagnosis of acute pericarditis (mean age, 47.7±17.9 years; 157 [66.0%] were male). On the initial electrocardiogram, 146 patients (61.3%) had ST-segment elevation, and 92 (38.7%) had no ST-segment elevation. Coronary angiography was performed in 40 patients (16.8% of all patients); the frequency was 5-fold higher among those with ST-segment elevation (24.7% vs 4.3%; P<.001). Additionally, 7 patients (4.8%) with ST-segment elevation received thrombolytics before transfer to our institution; no patients without ST-segment elevation received thrombolysis (P=.05). Characteristics associated with a higher likelihood of coronary angiography included typical anginal chest pain, ST-segment elevation, previous percutaneous coronary intervention, elevated troponin T values, diaphoresis, and male sex. Coronary angiography revealed concomitant mild to moderate coronary artery disease in 14 (35.0%) of the 40 patients who underwent this procedure. CONCLUSION: Urgent coronary angiography is commonly performed in patients with acute pericarditis, particularly those with ST-segment elevation, typical myocardial infarction symptoms, and elevated troponin T values. Coronary artery disease was present angiographically in one-third of patients undergoing the procedure. Although patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction must receive prompt reperfusion, clinicians must also consider the diagnosis of pericarditis to avoid unneeded coronary angiography.
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