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Randomized comparison of direct thrombin inhibition versus heparin in conjunction with fibrinolytic therapy for acute myocardial infarction: results from the GUSTO-IIb Trial. Global Use of Strategies to Open Occluded Coronary Arteries in Acute Coronary Syndromes (GUSTO-IIb) Investigators.

OBJECTIVES: We sought to show that hirudin might interact differently with streptokinase (SK) and tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA), which could reduce the incidence of death or reinfarction at 30 days.

BACKGROUND: In a large-scale trial of patients with acute coronary syndromes, hirudin provided modest benefit compared with heparin. However, the interaction with thrombolytic agents was not specifically assessed.

METHODS: Patients with symptoms of acute myocardial infarction and electrocardiographic ST segment elevation were treated with thrombolytic therapy and randomly assigned to receive hirudin or heparin.

RESULTS: A total of 2,274 patients received t-PA, and 1,015 received SK. Baseline characteristics were balanced by antithrombin assignment. Among SK-treated patients, death or reinfarction at 30 days occurred more often in those treated with adjunctive heparin (14.4%) rather than hirudin (8.6%, odds ratio [OR] 1.78, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.20 to 2.66, p = 0.004). Among t-PA-treated patients, the rates were 10.9% with heparin and 10.3% with hirudin (OR 1.06, 95% CI 0.81 to 1.38, p = 0.68; for treatment heterogeneity: chi-square 4.20, degrees of freedom [df] 1, p = 0.04). After adjustment for baseline differences between thrombolytic groups, the rates were 9.1% for SK with hirudin, 10.3% for t-PA with hirudin, 10.5% for t-PA with heparin and 14.9% for SK with heparin (for treatment heterogeneity: chi-square 4.5, df 1, p = 0.03), suggesting that the beneficial treatment effect of hirudin was limited to the SK-treated patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Hirudin interacts favorably with SK but not t-PA, highlighting the importance of thrombin activity after SK therapy and the potential for simulating the effects of a more potent fibrinolytic agent through direct antithrombin therapy.

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