Acute myocardial infarction under-diagnosis and mortality in a Tanzanian emergency department: A prospective observational study

Am Heart J. 2020 Aug;226:214-221. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2020.05.017. Epub 2020 Jun 5.


Background: Growing evidence suggests that under-diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) may be common in sub-Saharan Africa. Prospective studies of routine AMI screening among patients presenting to emergency departments in sub-Saharan Africa are lacking. Our objective was to determine the prevalence of AMI among patients in a Tanzanian emergency department.

Methods: In a prospective observational study, consecutive adult patients presenting with chest pain or shortness of breath to a referral hospital emergency department in northern Tanzania were enrolled. Electrocardiogram (ECG) and troponin testing were performed for all participants to diagnose AMI types according to the Fourth Universal Definition. All ECGs were interpreted by two independent physician judges. ECGs suggesting ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) were further reviewed by additional judges. Mortality was assessed 30 days following enrollment.

Results: Of 681 enrolled participants, 152 (22.3%) had AMI, including 61 STEMIs and 91 non-STEMIS (NSTEMIs). Of AMI patients, 91 (59.9%) were male, mean (SD) age was 61.2 (18.5) years, and mean (SD) duration of symptoms prior to presentation was 6.6 (12.2) days. In the emergency department, 35 (23.0%) AMI patients received aspirin and none received thrombolytics. Of 150 (98.7%) AMI patients completing 30-day follow-up, 65 (43.3%) had died.

Conclusions: In a northern Tanzanian emergency department, AMI is common, rarely treated with evidence-based therapies, and associated with high mortality. Interventions are needed to improve AMI diagnosis, care, and outcomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology*
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tanzania / epidemiology