Aims: Large inequalities in the use of primary percutaneous interventions (PPCI) for ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) are evident. In order to understand how we can help to implement best practice for STEMI patients, we investigated the variation in PPCI utilisation in 120 regions in 10 EU countries and the association with economic, organisational and demographic characteristics.
Methods and results: We performed an ecological study using mixed effects regression models in the following 10 countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England and Wales, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Northern Ireland. The main finding was the annual number of PPCI per million inhabitants from 2003 through 2008. Overall, the annual increase in PPCI utilisation was 1.15 (95% CI: 1.12, 1.19) per million per year. Regional-level rates varied from 0.74 (95% CI: 0.42, 1.30) to 1.90 (95 % CI: 1.01, 3.55) per million per year. At a regional level, significant positive associations with PPCI utilisation were the number of physicians per 100,000 inhabitants; the number of nurses and midwives per 100,000 inhabitants; and the proportion of the region's population aged 50 to <70 years. At a country level, significant positive associations with utilisation were the year of STEMI treatment, population density per km2; number of general hospital beds per 100,000 inhabitants; and the number of physicians per 100,000 inhabitants.
Conclusions: Between 2003 and 2008, PPCI utilisation increased significantly in the ten European countries studied, but there was a great variation within country regions. Regional variation in PPCI rates were associated with both demographic and supply factors, revealing substantial opportunities to improve PPCI utilisation across Europe at national and regional levels.