Long-term benefit of primary angioplasty as compared with thrombolytic therapy for acute myocardial infarction

N Engl J Med. 1999 Nov 4;341(19):1413-9. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199911043411901.


Background: As compared with thrombolytic therapy, primary coronary angioplasty results in a higher rate of patency of the infarct-related coronary artery, lower rates of stroke and reinfarction, and higher in-hospital or 30-day survival rates. However, the comparative long-term efficacy of these two approaches has not been carefully studied.

Methods: We randomly assigned a total of 395 patients with acute myocardial infarction to treatment with angioplasty or intravenous streptokinase. Clinical information was collected for a mean (+/-SD) of 5+/-2 years, and medical charges associated with the two treatments were compared.

Results: A total of 194 patients were assigned to undergo primary angioplasty, and 201 to receive streptokinase. Mortality was 13 percent in the angioplasty group, as compared with 24 percent in the streptokinase group (relative risk, 0.54; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.36 to 0.87). Nonfatal reinfarction occurred in 6 percent and 22 percent of the two groups, respectively (relative risk, 0.27; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.15 to 0.52). The combined incidence of death and nonfatal reinfarction was also lower among patients assigned to angioplasty than among those assigned to streptokinase, with a relative risk of 0.13 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.05 to 0.37) for early events (within the first 30 days) and a relative risk of 0.62 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.43 to 0.91) for late events (after 30 days). The rates of readmission for heart failure and ischemia were also lower among patients in the angioplasty group than among patients in the streptokinase group. Total medical charges per patient were lower in the angioplasty group (16,090 dollars) than in the streptokinase group (16,813 dollars, P=0.05).

Conclusions: During five years of follow-up, primary coronary angioplasty for acute myocardial infarction was associated with lower rates of early and late death and nonfatal reinfarction, fewer hospital readmissions for ischemia or heart failure, and lower total medical charges than treatment with intravenous streptokinase.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Angioplasty, Balloon, Coronary*
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospital Charges
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Myocardial Infarction / drug therapy*
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality
  • Myocardial Infarction / therapy*
  • Recurrence
  • Streptokinase / therapeutic use*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Thrombolytic Therapy*


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Streptokinase