Use of prehospital 12-lead electrocardiography and treatment times among ST-elevation myocardial infarction patients with atypical symptoms

Austin R Cannon, Li Lin, Barbara Lytle, Eric D Peterson, Charles B Cairns, Seth W Glickman
Academic Emergency Medicine: Official Journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine 2014, 21 (8): 892-8

OBJECTIVES: Guidelines advise that a prehospital electrocardiogram (ECG) should be obtained in any patients with chest pain, yet up to 20% of patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) do not present with chest pain. The objective was to determine the association of atypical presentations in the prehospital setting on the likelihood of receiving a prehospital ECG and subsequent time to reperfusion therapy.

METHODS: This study used a data set that linked prehospital medical information from a statewide EMS data system with a clinical registry of treatment and outcomes data for patients with STEMI. Among 2,639 STEMI patients from 2008 to 2010, the association between non-chest pain presentations, prehospital ECG use, and reperfusion times among patients undergoing primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) were examined. Inverse probability weights were used to account for observed baseline confounders.

RESULTS: Overall, 318 of 2,639 patients (12.1%) presented without chest pain. A prehospital ECG was obtained in 2,021 of 2,321 (87.1%) patients with chest pain compared with only 230 of 318 (72.3%) without chest pain (odds ratio [OR] = 2.24, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.69 to 2.98). Among patients without chest pain, those who received a prehospital ECG had significantly shorter first medical contact (FMC) to device times (30.9% < 90 minutes vs. 11.4% > 90 minutes, adjusted OR = 2.81, 95% CI = 1.29 to 6.11, p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: Over one-quarter of STEMI patients presenting without chest pain did not receive prehospital ECGs and had significantly longer FMC to device times. Future efforts are needed to promote the use of prehospital ECGs to achieve more rapid identification of STEMI patients with atypical presentations in the prehospital setting.

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