Primary coronary angioplasty vs thrombolysis for the management of acute myocardial infarction in elderly patients

Alan K. Berger, Kevin A. Schulman, Bernard J. Gersh, Sarmad Pirzada, Jeffrey A. Breall, Ayah E. Johnson, Nathan R. Every

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164 Scopus citations


Context: Despite evidence from randomized trials that, compared with early thrombolysis, primary percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) after acute myocardial infarction (AMI) reduces mortality in middle- aged adults, whether elderly patients with AMI are more likely to benefit from PTCA or early thrombolysis is not known. Objective: To determine survival after primary PTCA vs thrombolysis in elderly patients. Design: The Cooperative Cardiovascular Project, a retrospective cohort study using data from medical charts and administrative files. Setting: Acute care hospitals in the United States. Patients: A total of 20 683 Medicare beneficiaries, who arrived within 12 hours of the onset of symptoms, were admitted between January 1994 and February 1996 with a principal discharge diagnosis of AMI, and were eligible for reperfusion therapy. Main Outcome Measures: Thirty-day and 1-year survival. Results: A total of 80 356 eligible patients had an AMI at hospital arrival and met the inclusion criteria, of whom 23.2% received thrombolysis and 2.5% underwent primary PTCA within 6 hours of hospital arrival. Patients undergoing primary PTCA had lower 30-day (8.7% vs 11.9%, P = .001) and 1-year mortality (14.4% vs 17.6%, P = .001). After adjusting for baseline cardiac risk factors and admission and hospital characteristics, primary PTCA was associated with improved 30-day (hazard ratio [HR] of death, 0.74; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.63-0.88) and 1-year (HR, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.73-0.94) survival. The benefits of primary coronary angioplasty persisted when stratified by hospitals' AMI volume and the presence of on-site angiography. In patients classified as ideal for reperfusion therapy, the mortality benefit of primary PTCA was not significant at 1-year follow-up (HR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.78-1.08). Conclusion: In elderly patients who present with AMI, primary PTCA is associated with modestly lower short- and long- term mortality rates. In the subgroup of patients who were classified as ideal for reperfusion therapy, the observed benefit of primary PTCA was no longer significant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-348
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 28 1999


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