Ambulance use in acute coronary syndrome in Ireland: A cross-sectional study

Eur J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2016 Aug;15(5):345-54. doi: 10.1177/1474515115579134. Epub 2015 Mar 24.


Background: As myocardial salvage is time dependent, prompt emergency department attendance is imperative in the presence of unresolved acute coronary syndrome symptoms. Although ambulance use is the recommended mode of transport during an acute coronary syndrome event, people regularly have misperceptions about its role. Consequently, many fail to use this service when warranted.

Aim: To evaluate factors associated with ambulance usage among patients admitted to emergency departments with acute coronary syndrome symptoms in Ireland.

Methods: Patients (N=1947) diagnosed with acute coronary syndrome were recruited across five hospitals. The ACS Response Index was used to identify mode of transport to access the emergency department, symptom context and experience and the rationale for non-ambulance use. Using logistic regression, predictors of ambulance use were identified.

Results: Only 40.1% of the sample used an ambulance. The primary reason for non-ambulance use was the perception that it was unwarranted (31%). A further 23.8% thought another mode of transportation would be faster. Independent predictors of ambulance usage differed among the three sub-diagnoses of acute coronary syndrome. For each group, visiting the general practitioner with symptoms was associated with a greater likelihood of not using an ambulance.

Conclusion: The use of ambulance services is not positively embraced by the public. Furthermore, it appears that general practitioners may not always promote its use, particularly in the early stages of acute coronary syndrome symptom onset. The findings from our study suggest that a public education drive is necessary to promote ambulance usage during an acute coronary syndrome event.

Keywords: Acute coronary syndrome; ambulance; cross-sectional study; emergency medical services; public awareness.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / therapy*
  • Ambulances*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Myocardial Infarction
  • Transportation of Patients