Aim: To describe the characteristics and outcome of patients who came to the emergency department due to chest pain or other symptoms raising suspicion of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in relation to whether they were hospitalized or directly discharged from the emergency department.
Methods: All patients arriving to the emergency department in one single hospital due to chest pain or other symptoms raising suspicion of AMI during a period of 21 months were followed for 10 years.
Results: In all, 5362 patients fulfilled the given criteria on 7157 occasions; 3381 (63%) were hospitalized and 1981 (37%) were directly discharged. Patients who were hospitalized were older and had a higher prevalence of previous cardiovascular diseases. The mortality during the subsequent 10 years was 52.1% among those hospitalized and 22.3% among those discharged (P < 0.0001). Risk indicators for death were similar in the two cohorts. However, many of these risk indicators including age, a history of myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, congestive heart failure, hypertension, initial degree of suspicion of AMI, a pathologic electrocardiogram on admission and a confirmed AMI as underlying etiology were more strongly associated with the prognosis among patients directly discharged than among those hospitalized. Ten (0.5%) of the patients who were directly discharged from the emergency department were found to have a diagnosis of confirmed or possible AMI, making up 1% of all patients given such a diagnosis. These patients had a 10-year mortality of 80.0% compared with 65.7% among patients with a confirmed or possible AMI who were hospitalized.
Conclusion: Of patients who came to the emergency department with acute chest pain or other symptoms suggestive of AMI about a third were directly discharged. Their mortality during the subsequent 10 years was half that of patients hospitalized. Various risk indicators for death were more strongly associated with prognosis in the patients who were directly discharged from the emergency department compared to those hospitalized. Of all patients given a diagnosis of confirmed or possible AMI, 1% were discharged from the emergency department. Their long-term mortality was high, maybe even higher than among AMI patients hospitalized.