Thrombolysis remains the treatment of choice in ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) when primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) cannot be done within 90 min. However, the best subsequent management of patients after thrombolytic therapy remains unclear. To assess the best management, we randomised patients with STEMI treated by thrombolysis and abciximab at a non-interventional hospital to immediate transfer for PCI, or to standard medical therapy with transfer for rescue angioplasty.
600 patients aged 75 years or younger with one or more high-risk features (extensive ST-segment elevation, new-onset left bundle branch block, previous myocardial infarction, Killip class >2, or left ventricular ejection fraction =35%) in hospitals in France, Italy, and Poland were treated with half-dose reteplase, abciximab, heparin, and aspirin, and randomly assigned to immediate transfer to the nearest interventional centre for PCI, or to management in the local hospital with transfer only in case of persistent ST-segment elevation or clinical deterioration. The primary outcome was a composite of death, reinfarction, or refractory ischaemia at 30 days, and analysis was by intention to treat. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number 00220571.
Of the 299 patients assigned to immediate PCI, 289 (97·0%) underwent angiography, and 255 (85·6%) received PCI. Rescue PCI was done in 91 patients (30·3%) in the standard care/rescue PCI group. The primary outcome occurred in 13 patients (4·4%) in the immediate PCI group compared with 32 (10·7%) in the standard care/rescue PCI group (hazard ratio 0·40; 95% CI 0·21–0·76, log rank p=0·004). Major bleeding was seen in ten patients in the immediate group and seven in the standard care/rescue group (3·4% vs 2·3%, p=0·47). Strokes occurred in two patients in the immediate group and four in the standard care/rescue group (0·7% vs 1·3%, p=0·50).
Immediate transfer for PCI improves outcome in high-risk patients with STEMI treated at a non-interventional centre with half-dose reteplase and abciximab.