In EKGs, what is diffuse J-point elevation and what causes it?

Dear Doctor,
Can someone get diffuse J-point elevation intermittently? I had 2 ECG’s done within last 4 months and the latest one shows diffuse J-point elevation but the other doesn’t show it.

1) What is diffuse J-point elevation?
2) Can someone get occasional diffuse J-point elevation?
3) What causes diffuse J-point elevation?

Thank you.

Submitted by AJ from NA on 09/22/2015

Dear AJ,
The term J-point elevation represents a family of ECG findings. It has been described in several metabolic disorders most notably hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature). Subtle nuances in its pattern may point to other conditions, the most common of which is termed ‘early repolarization’. This has long been considered a ‘normal variant’ and is seen in young adults and is more common in African Americans, usually resolving with age. It is most commonly confused with pericarditis (inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart). Recently some patterns of early repolarization have been associated with increased mortality.

The odds are good that you have the benign variety. However, an evaluation by an electrophysiologist would be a good idea and he could inform you of any new knowledge in this area. Sincerely.