Background: The delay between onset of symptoms and coronary care unit admission is decisive in the outcome of patients with acute myocardial infarction.
Objective: To evaluate the influence of the factors that affect the delay in acute myocardial infarction treatment.
Methods: Multicenter case-control study conducted by 118 coronary care units in Italy. The median and mean times in cases and controls were compared for decision time, home-to-hospital time, and in-hospital time, and the influence of several potential risk factors on the delay was evaluated by comparison of patients admitted more than 6 hours after onset with those admitted within 6 hours after onset.
Results: Among 5301 patients with acute myocardial infarction, 590 who came to a coronary care unit after 12 hours were considered cases. Controls included 600 patients treated within 2 hours, 603 between 2 and 6 hours, and 466 between 6 and 12 hours. The median decision time among cases was 50-fold higher than that of controls who presented within 2 hours. Home-to-hospital time and in-hospital time appeared to play a less important role. Among the patient-related variables, advanced age, living alone, low intensity of initial symptoms, history of diabetes, strong pain at onset of the infarction, occurrence of symptoms at night, and involvement of a general practitioner seemed to affect delay significantly.
Conclusion: Interventions aimed at reducing the delay in acute myocardial infarction treatment should primarily focus on the help-seeking behavior of patients.