Acute Coronary Syndrome patients in New Zealand receive less invasive management when admitted to hospitals without invasive facilities

N Z Med J. 2004 Jul 9;117(1197):U954.


Aim: To compare differences in the presentation and management of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) patients presenting to interventional versus non-interventional New Zealand hospitals.

Methods: We assessed the data collected by the New Zealand Cardiac Society ACS Audit Group over 14 days from each hospital in New Zealand (n=36) that admits ACS patients. Patient management at intervention centres (5 public, 3 private) was compared with non-intervention centres (28 public). Investigations and revascularisation procedures performed on transferred patients were attributed to the referring centre.

Results: From 0000 hours on 13 May 2002 to 2400 hours on 26 May 2002, 930 patients were admitted to a New Zealand hospital with a suspected or definite ACS: ST-segment-elevation myocardial infarction [STEMI] (11%), non-STEMI (31%), unstable angina pectoris [UAP] (36%), or another cardiac or medical diagnosis (22%). Patients admitted to a non-intervention centre (n=612) were the same age (median 70 years) with similar risk factors, but were more likely to be Maori (8.2% vs 3.8%, p=0.0063) and were less likely to have a history of prior cardiac angiography (26% vs 28%, p=0.02) or percutaneous coronary intervention [PCI] (9.6% vs 14%, p=0.03) than patients admitted to an intervention centre (n=318). Patients admitted to a non-intervention centre were more likely to have a chest X-ray (88% vs 81%, p<0.0024), as likely to have an exercise treadmill test (20% vs 22%, p=0.39), but less likely to receive an echocardiogram (17% vs 26%, p<0.0005), a cardiac angiogram (17% vs 30%, p<0.0001), or neither a treadmill nor a cardiac angiogram (68% vs 53%, p<0.0001) for cardiac risk assessment. For patients with a definite ACS presentation (STEMI, Non-STEMI, UAP, n=721), PCI was performed less often for patients admitted to non-intervention centres: 3% vs 14% (p<0.0001), although the rate of coronary artery bypass grafting was similar: 3% vs 5% (p=0.16).

Conclusion: Patients admitted to a hospital without cardiac interventional facilities receive fewer investigations and less revascularisation than patients admitted to Intervention Centres. Hence patients admitted with an acute coronary syndrome in New Zealand receive inequitable management. A comprehensive National strategy is needed to improve access to optimal cardiac care.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angina, Unstable / diagnosis
  • Angina, Unstable / ethnology
  • Angina, Unstable / therapy*
  • Cardiology Service, Hospital
  • Coronary Artery Bypass
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Cardiovascular / statistics & numerical data*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Hospital Costs
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis
  • Myocardial Infarction / ethnology
  • Myocardial Infarction / therapy*
  • Myocardial Revascularization / statistics & numerical data*
  • New Zealand
  • Patient Transfer / statistics & numerical data
  • Radiography, Thoracic / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Assessment
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / statistics & numerical data*