Implications and reasons for the lack of use of reperfusion therapy in patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction: findings from the CRUSADE initiative

Am Heart J. 2010 May;159(5):757-63. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2010.02.009.


Background: Prompt reperfusion for patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is a class I guideline recommendation and has been shown to reduce mortality. However, many STEMI patients in contemporary practice still do not receive any form of reperfusion therapy.

Methods: We evaluated 8,578 patients with STEMI from 226 US hospitals participating in the CRUSADE quality improvement initiative from September 2004 to December 2006 to determine the proportion of eligible patients who received an attempt at reperfusion therapy and factors associated with lack of reperfusion among patients without a contraindication to reperfusion. STEMI patients were classified into 3 groups: (1) patients eligible for reperfusion and for whom reperfusion was attempted; (2) patients eligible for reperfusion and for whom reperfusion was not attempted; and (3) patients who were ineligible for reperfusion because of identified contraindications. We compared patient characteristics, treatments, and outcomes among the groups and identified factors independently associated with lack of reperfusion use among eligible patients.

Results: Of the 8,578 patients with STEMI, 881 patients (10.3%) had a documented contraindication to reperfusion, 7,080 (82.5%) received fibrinolysis or underwent an attempt at primary percutaneous coronary intervention, and 617 reperfusion-eligible patients (7.2%) had no attempt to administer reperfusion. Primary reasons for contraindications were identified as absence of an ischemic indication (n = 474; 53.8%), bleeding risk (n = 147; 16.7%), patient-related reasons (n = 223; 25.3%), and other (n = 37; 4.2%). The strongest factors associated with not attempting reperfusion among the reperfusion-eligible population were older age, heart failure at presentation, noncardiac surgical center, prior stroke, and female sex. Compared with patients receiving an attempt at reperfusion, adjusted in-hospital mortality rates were higher for patients with a documented reperfusion contraindication (adjusted odds ratio 1.77, 95% CI 1.28-2.45) and in eligible patients who did not receive reperfusion (adjusted odds ratio 1.64, 95% CI 1.07-2.50).

Conclusions: More than 7% of STEMI patients without a reperfusion contraindication did not have an attempt to administer reperfusion therapy, and this was associated with greater in-hospital mortality. Age, sex, and comorbidity were factors related to lack of attempting reperfusion among apparently eligible patients. Quality improvement efforts should focus on maximizing reperfusion use among all eligible STEMI patients and in addressing the processes by which contraindications are defined, clinically determined, and reported.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Contraindications
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality
  • Myocardial Infarction / therapy*
  • Myocardial Reperfusion / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Registries
  • United States