Increasing proportion of ST elevation myocardial infarction patients with coronary atherosclerosis poorly explained by standard modifiable risk factors

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Identification and management of the Standard Modifiable Cardiovascular Risk Factors (SMuRFs; hypercholesterolaemia, hypertension, diabetes and smoking) has substantially improved cardiovascular disease outcomes. However, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide. Suspecting an evolving pattern of risk factor profiles in the ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) population with the improvements in primary care, we hypothesized that the proportion of ‘SMuRFless’ STEMI patients may have increased.


We performed a single centre retrospective study of consecutive STEMI patients presenting from January 2006 to December 2014. Over the study period 132/695 (25%) STEMI patients had 0 SMuRFs, a proportion that did not significantly change with age, gender or family history. The proportion of STEMI patients who were SMuRFless in 2006 was 11%, which increased to 27% by 2014 (odds ratio 1.12 per year, 95% confidence interval: 1.04–1.22). The proportion of patients with hypercholesterolaemia decreased (odds ratio 0.92, 95% confidence interval 0.86–0.98), as did the proportion of current smokers (odds ratio 0.93, 95% confidence interval 0.86–0.99), with no significant change in the proportion of patients with diabetes and hypertension. SMuRF status was not associated with extent of coronary disease; in-hospital outcomes, or discharge prescribing patterns.


The proportion of STEMI patients with STEMI poorly explained by SMuRFs is high, and is significantly increasing. This highlights the need for bold approaches to discover new mechanisms and markers for early identification of these patients, as well as to understand the outcomes and develop new targeted therapies.

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