Background: The prompt administration of coronary reperfusion therapy for patients with an evolving acute myocardial infarction (AMI) is crucial in reducing mortality and the risk of serious clinical complications in these patients. However, long-term trends in extent of prehospital delay and factors affecting patient's care-seeking behavior remain relatively unexplored, especially in men and women of different ages. The objectives of this study were to examine the overall magnitude and 20-year trends (1986 to 2005) in duration of prehospital delay in middle-aged and elderly men and women hospitalized with AMI.
Methods and results: The study sample consisted of 5967 residents of the Worcester, Mass, metropolitan area hospitalized at all greater Worcester medical centers for AMI between 1986 and 2005 who had information available about duration of prehospital delay. Compared with men <65 years, patients in other age-sex strata exhibited longer prehospital delays over the 20-year period under study. The multivariable-adjusted medians of prehospital delay were 1.96, 2.07, and 2.57 hours for men <65 years, men 65 to 74 years, and men ≥75 years and 2.08, 2.33, and 2.27 hours for women <65 years, women 65 to 74 years, and women ≥75 years, respectively. These age and sex differences have narrowed over time, which has been largely explained by changes in patient's comorbidity profile and AMI-associated characteristics.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that duration of prehospital delay in persons with symptoms of AMI has remained essentially unchanged during the 20-year period under study and elderly individuals are more likely to delay seeking timely medical care than younger persons.