Is early invasive management as ST elevation myocardial infarction warranted in de Winter’s sign?—a “peak” into the widow-maker
de Winter’s sign was first described by de Winter et al. in 2008 as a new electrocardiographic (EKG) pattern of acute proximal left anterior descending coronary artery (LAD) occlusion. Instead of the normal presentation of ST elevation, it is described as depression of ST segment at the J point in the precordial leads V1-V6, which are upsloping leading to hyper-acute T waves, with ST elevation in aVR. The initial retrospective systematic analysis proved this sign to be present in about 2% of anterior myocardial infarction. This review aims to address the important question of mode and urgency of intervention, on detection of de Winter’s sign. In this review, we take a look at the de Winter’s sign EKG characteristics, accuracy in diagnosis, typical patient presentation, and the outcomes of early intervention. We conducted a Medline search using various combinations of “de Winter’s sign,” “STEMI equivalent,” “cardiac catheterization,” and “thrombolysis” to identify pivotal research articles published before June 1, 2019, for inclusion in this review. Concurrently, major practice guidelines, trial bibliographies, and pertinent reviews were examined to ensure inclusion of relevant trials. A consensus among the authors was used to choose items for narrative inclusion. The following section reviews data from pivotal trials to determine the need for early invasive management in de Winter’s sign. Research articles reviewed evaluating cardiac catheterization in de Winter’s sign. de Winter’s sign, although rare (~2%), should be promptly recognized, as it reveals underlying severe coronary artery pathology, frequently involving the LAD which is associated with a high rate of mortality. This systematic review emphasizes awareness and strong consideration of early activation of the cardiac catheterization lab with PPCI; which may yield better treatment outcomes. The evidence suggests that de Winter’s sign, presenting with ST depression and T wave elevation, should indeed be treated as ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) equivalent, with prompt recognition and early intervention.