Background: Although both prehospital fibrinolysis and primary angioplasty provide a clinical benefit over in-hospital fibrinolysis in acute myocardial infarction, they have not been directly compared. Our aim was to find out whether primary angioplasty was better than prehospital fibrinolysis.
Methods: We did a randomised multicentre trial of 840 patients (of 1200 planned) who presented within 6 h of acute myocardial infarction with ST-segment elevation, initially managed by mobile emergency-care units. We assigned patients to prehospital fibrinolysis (n=419) with accelerated alteplase or primary angioplasty (n=421), and transferred all to a centre with access to emergency angioplasty. Our primary endpoint was a composite of death, non-fatal reinfarction, and non-fatal disabling stroke at 30 days. Analyses were by intention to treat.
Findings: The median delay between onset of symptoms and treatment was 130 min in the prehospital-fibrinolysis group and 190 min (time to first balloon inflation) in the primary-angioplasty group. Rescue angioplasty was done in 26% of the patients in the fibrinolysis group. The rate of the primary endpoint was 8.2% (34 patients) in the prehospital-fibrinolysis group and 6.2% (26 patients) in the primary-angioplasty group (risk difference 1.96, 95% CI -1.53 to 5.46). 16 (3.8%) patients assigned prehospital fibrinolysis and 20 (4.8%) assigned primary angioplasty died (p=0.61).
Interpretation: A strategy of primary angioplasty was not better than a strategy of prehospital fibrinolysis (with transfer to an interventional facility for possible rescue angioplasty) in patients presenting with early myocardial infarction.