Wellens' syndrome

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Wellens' syndrome
Wellens' Syndrome.png
EKG of a 69-year-old black male with Wellens' warning. Visible in leads V1-V4, here with a biphasic T-wave with negativisation.
Classification and external resources

Wellens' syndrome (Wellens' sign, Wellens' warning, or Wellens' waves) is an electrocardiographic manifestation of critical proximal left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery stenosis in patients with unstable angina. It is characterized by symmetrical, often deep (>2 mm), T wave inversions in the anterior precordial leads. A less common variant is biphasic T wave inversions in the same leads.[1]

First described by Hein J. J. Wellens and colleagues in 1982 in a subgroup of patients with unstable angina,[2] it does not seem to be rare, appearing in 18% of patients in his original study. A subsequent prospective study identified this syndrome in 14% of patients at presentation and 60% of patients within the first 24 hours.[3]

The presence of Wellens' syndrome carries significant diagnostic and prognostic value. All patients in the De Zwann's study with characteristic findings had more than 50% stenosis of the left anterior descending artery (mean = 85% stenosis) with complete or near-complete occlusion in 59%. In the original Wellens' study group, 75% of those with the typical syndrome manifestations had an anterior myocardial infarction. Sensitivity and specificity for significant (more or equal to 70%) stenosis of the LAD artery was found to be 69% and 89%, respectively, with a positive predictive value of 86%.[4]

Wellens' sign has also been seen as a rare presentation of Takotsubo cardiomyopathy or stress cardiomyopathy.[citation needed]

Diagnostic criteria[edit]


  1. ^ Tandy, TK; Bottomy DP; Lewis JG (March 1999). "Wellens' syndrome". Annals of Emergency Medicine. 33 (3): 347–351. PMID 10036351. doi:10.1016/S0196-0644(99)70373-2. 
  2. ^ de Zwaan, C; Bär FW; Wellens HJJ (April 1982). "Characteristic electrocardiographic pattern indicating a critical stenosis high in left anterior descending coronary artery in patients admitted because of impending myocardial infarction". American Heart Journal. 103 (4): 730–736. PMID 6121481. doi:10.1016/0002-8703(82)90480-X. 
  3. ^ de Zwaan, C; Bär FW; Janssen JH; et al. (March 1989). "Angiographic and clinical characteristics of patients with unstable angina showing an ECG pattern indicating critical narrowing of the proximal LAD coronary artery". American Heart Journal. 117 (3): 657–665. PMID 2784024. doi:10.1016/0002-8703(89)90742-4. 
  4. ^ Haines, DE; Raabe DS; Gundel WD; Wackers FJ (July 1983). "Anatomic and prognostic significance of new T-wave inversion in unstable angina". American Journal of Cardiology. 52 (1): 14–18. PMID 6602539. doi:10.1016/0002-9149(83)90061-9.