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Wellen’s Syndrome

What is Wellen’s syndrome?

This is a pattern of electrocardiogram waves (ECG). The electrocardiogram is a medical test that is normally done to examine the electrical activity in your heart. It records the electrical signals that cause your heart to beat. These electrocardiogram waves come before a very serious stenosis, which is an abnormal and possibly dangerous narrowing of your proximal left anterior descending (LAD) artery. This is the artery that supplies blood to the large areas of your heart. If they are completely blocked it will cause a massive heart attack and can lead to sudden death. It is often referred to as the widow maker. The pattern is normally observed in the T-wave portion of the test in patients who are not currently experiencing pain but do have a history of angina, which is a temporary, painful heart condition that is caused by the constriction of your arteries and veins. Although most patients are not experiencing pain at the time of the test there have been some patients that are experiencing pain.

It was first observed in 1982 by Dr. Hein Wellens. It is very important that physicians and nurses be familiar with this ECG pattern because it usually precedes a very serious heart condition that needs immediate medical attention.


People who have had recent chest pain or angina are at risk for developing Wellen’s syndrome.

Indications of Wellen’s syndrome

Wellen’s syndrome is usually indicated when the T-way drops into the negative at a sixty to ninety degree angle. It often comes before a stenosis in their LAD artery. In addition to the T-waves there are other wave patterns that can help to indicate that a person may have Wellen’s syndrome, which include:

  • The Q wave that normally comes before the large R wave will often go away along with the possibility of a slight elevation in the ST wave portion or lack of change in this wave.


When a patient is displaying early signs of Wellen’s syndrome surgery or medical care must be done as soon as possible. If you are in your physician’s office when this abnormality is noted you will need to be transported to the nearest hospital. Because it can be life-threatening it is best if you are transported by ambulance as they can check your vital signs and give you supplemental oxygen. The physician may have you take an aspirin and you may also be given a nitroglycerin pill to help with the pain.

Once you have been stabilized you should see a cardiologist, a specialist in treating heart conditions. It is a medical condition that can be treated with surgery.

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