Background: Primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is the preferred treatment for ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) provided it can be delivered within 90 minutes of hospital admission. In clinical practice this target is difficult to achieve. We aimed to determine the effect of direct ambulance admission to the cardiac catheterization laboratory on door-to-balloon and call-to-balloon times in primary PCI.
Methods: We performed a prospective evaluation of a new system of paramedic electrocardiogram diagnosis of STEMI and subsequent direct ambulance admission to the cardiac catheterization laboratory for primary PCI. Door-to-balloon and call-to-balloon times were recorded for all patients. Direct admissions were compared with admissions via the emergency room of the interventional center and of 2 referring hospitals. All times are quoted as medians.
Results: Five hundred and seventy-seven patients (70% male, age 63 +/- 13 years) underwent primary PCI between April 2005 and May 2007. After February 2006, 172 (44%) of 387 patients were admitted directly from the ambulance to the catheterization laboratory. Directly admitted patients had significantly reduced door-to-balloon (58 vs 105 minutes, P < .001) and call-to-balloon times (105 vs 143 minutes, P < .001). The 90-minute target for door-to-balloon time was achieved in 94% of direct admissions compared to 29% of patients referred from the emergency room.
Conclusions: Direct admission of patients with suspected STEMI from the ambulance service to the catheterization laboratory significantly reduces time to treatment in primary PCI and allows the 90-minute door-to-balloon time target to be reliably achieved.