Aims: Although presenting features and early sequelae of non-ST-segment elevation acute coronary syndromes (NSTE-ACS) are well described, less is known about longer-term risks and modes of death. The purpose of this study was to characterize modes of death following NSTE-ACS in clinical trial populations.
Methods and results: We evaluated 66 252 patients with NSTE-ACS enrolled in 14 Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction (TIMI) trials, examining baseline characteristics and modes and timing of death. Of the 66 252 patients followed for a median of 372 (interquartile range 218-521) days, 3147 (4.8%) died by the time of last follow-up. Of the 2606 patients (82.8%) with known modes of death, 75.1% were related to a cardiovascular (CV) event, 3.0% were related to a bleeding event (including intracranial haemorrhage), and 21.8% were related to a non-CV/non-bleeding event. The most common modes of CV death were sudden death (SD) and recurrent myocardial infarction (MI) (36.4% and 23.4%, respectively, of CV deaths). The proportion of CV deaths related to recurrent MI was higher in the first 30 days than it was after 30 days following NSTE-ACS (30.6% vs. 18.7%), whereas the proportion of SD was lower in the first 30 days than after 30 days (21.6% vs. 46.2%).
Conclusion: Sudden death represents the largest proportion of CV deaths after 30 days among patients enrolled in CV clinical trials with NSTE-ACS. Further investigations aimed at defining the epidemiology of SD and developing specific therapies and management approaches to reduce SD following NSTE-ACS may be critical to reducing late mortality.