Thrombolytic therapy in older patients

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2000 Aug;36(2):366-74. doi: 10.1016/s0735-1097(00)00723-3.


Objectives: We compared outcomes following thrombolytic therapy and primary angioplasty with no reperfusion therapy in a population-based cohort of older patients presenting with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and indications for acute reperfusion.

Background: Evidence supporting the efficacy of acute reperfusion (thrombolytic therapy or primary angioplasty) in the elderly with suspected AMI is not as strong as it is in younger groups.

Methods: From a national cohort of Medicare beneficiaries with AMI, we identified 37,983 patients age 65 or older who presented within 12 h of symptom onset with ST elevation or left bundle branch block. A total of 14,341 (37.8%) received thrombolytic therapy and 1,599 (4.2%) underwent primary angioplasty within 6 h of hospital arrival.

Results: After adjustment for demographic, clinical, hospital and physician factors, and co-interventions, thrombolytic therapy was not associated with a better 30-day survival (odds ratio [OR] 1.01; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.94 to 1.09) compared with no therapy, whereas primary angioplasty was (OR 0.79; 95% CI: 0.66 to 0.94). At one year, both thrombolytic therapy (OR 0.84; 95% CI: 0.79 to 0.89) and primary angioplasty (OR 0.71; 95% CI: 0.61 to 0.83) were associated with a survival benefit.

Conclusions: In this national sample of older patients, those who received thrombolytic therapy or primary angioplasty had lower mortality at one year compared with those who did not receive a reperfusion strategy. However, only primary angioplasty was associated with better survival at 30 days. Our findings should heighten interest in further investigating the best approach to the treatment of older patients with suspected AMI and ST segment elevation or left bundle branch block.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angioplasty, Balloon, Coronary*
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myocardial Infarction / drug therapy
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality
  • Myocardial Infarction / therapy*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Thrombolytic Therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome