Background: Emergency medical service plays a key role in the early recognition and treatment of ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), but studies indicate that the patients experiencing STEMI symptoms often fail to call an ambulance as recommended. This study aimed to examine the current ambulance transport frequency and ascertain predictors and reasons for not choosing ambulance transportation by the patients with STEMI in Beijing.
Methods: A prospective, cross-sectional survey was conducted from January 1, 2006 through until June 30, 2007 in two tertiary hospitals in Beijing and included consecutive patients with STEMI admitted within 24 hours of onset of symptoms. Data were collected by structured interviews and medical records review.
Results: Of the 572 patients, only 172 (30.1%) used an ambulance, and the remaining 400 (69.9%) presented by self-transport. Multivariate analysis showed that age <65 years (OR: 1.220; 95% CI: 1.001-2.043), lower education level (OR: 1.582; 95% CI: 1.003-2.512), presence of pre-infarction angina (OR: 1.595; 95% CI: 1.086-2.347), and attribution of symptoms to non-cardiac origin (OR: 1.519; 95% CI: 1.011-2.284) were independent predictors for not using an ambulance. However, history of coronary artery disease (CAD), dyspnea, perceiving symptoms to be serious, and knowing the meaning of cardiopulmonary resuscitation appeared to be independent predictors of ambulance use. The main reasons for not using an ambulance were convenience and quickness of self-transport and the decreased severity of symptoms.
Conclusions: A large proportion of patients in Beijing do not call for an ambulance after onset of STEMI symptoms. Several factors including demographics, previous CAD, symptoms and cognitive factors of patients are associated with the ambulance use. The public should be educated that an ambulance is not merely a transportation modality and that it also provides rapid diagnosis and treatment.