The level I cardiovascular center: is it time?

Richard W Smalling, Gregory Giesler
American Heart Hospital Journal 2003, 1 (2): 170-4
There is no uniform approach to treating the 1.5 million US citizens who have an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) each year. This contrasts with the trauma system developed to efficiently triage and treat the critically injured accident victim. Only two thirds of patients with ST-segment elevation AMI in the United States are treated with thrombolytic therapy or primary angioplasty (percutaneous coronary intervention [PCI]) which can reduce the 30-day mortality rate from approximately 15% to 6%-10%. The Early Retavase-Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (ER-TIMI) 19 trial demonstrated that AMI patients who received prehospital thrombolytic therapy and were brought to the nearest receiving hospital experienced a 32-minute reduction in the time to treatment and time to ST-elevation resolution compared with those treated at their time of hospital arrival. This expedited therapy was associated with a low in hospital mortality rate (4.7%). The potential benefit of facilitated PCI with partial-dose thrombolysis and abciximab administration was demonstrated by the Strategies for Patency Enhancement in the Emergency Department (SPEED) investigators who found that double bolus recombinant plasminogen activator (reteplase) (5 + 5 megaunits) and abciximab with the addition of early PCI, resulted in a final infarct-related artery TIMI 3 flow rate of 86% compared with 77% with combination therapy alone. The Primary Angioplasty in Acute Myocardial Infarction (PAMI) investigators have shown that patients admitted with infarct-related artery TIMI 3 flow at the time of primary PCI had less than a 1% 6-month mortality. Treating AMI patients with prehospital, partial dose thrombolysis followed by immediate transport to a Level I cardiovascular center (bypassing the closest hospital if necessary) for facilitated infarct-related artery PCI has the potential to reduce the mortality in ST-elevation AMI patients from 6%-10% to less than 4% which could translate into saving approximately 500 lives per day in the United States. It is time to validate this strategy with a randomized clinical trial, the Prehospital Administration of Thrombolytic Therapy With Urgent Culprit Artery Revascularization trial (PATCAR).

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