Q waves may develop within one to two hours of the onset of symptoms of acute myocardial infarction, though often they take 12 hours and occasionally up to 24 hours to appear. The presence of pathological Q waves, however, does not necessarily indicate a completed infarct.
The rule is: if the wave immediately after the P wave is an upward deflection, it is an R wave; if it is a downward deflection, it is a Q wave: small Q waves correspond to depolarization of the interventricular septum. Q waves can also relate to breathing and are generally small and thin.
Normal septal q waves are characteristically narrow and of low amplitude. As a rule, septal q waves are less than 0.04 sec in duration. A Q wave is generally abnormal if its duration is 0.04 sec or more in lead I, all three inferior leads (II, III, aVF), or leads V3 to V6.
Conclusion: Abnormal Q waves on the admission electrocardiogram (ECG) are associated with higher peak creatine kinase, higher prevalence of heart failure, and increased mortality in patients with anterior MI. Abnormal Q waves on the admission ECG of patients with inferior MI are not associated with adverse prognosis.
Pathologic Q waves are a sign of previous myocardial infarction. They are the result of absence of electrical activity. A myocardial infarction can be thought of as an elecrical ‘hole’ as scar tissue is electrically dead and therefore results in pathologic Q waves.Jan 8, 2012
Electrocardiogram Interpretation Q waves represent the initial phase of ventricular depolarization. They are pathologic if they are abnormally wide (>0.2 second) or abnormally deep (>5 mm). Q waves that are pathologically deep but not wide are often indicators of ventricular hypertrophy.