Background: Several relatively small randomized trials have shown that primary angioplasty results in a better short-term outcome than thrombolytic therapy in patients with acute myocardial infarction. These results, however, have not been duplicated other than in investigational trials.
Methods: We compared mortality during hospitalization and long-term mortality, as well as the use of resources, among 1050 patients in a primary-angioplasty group and 2095 patients in a thrombolytic-therapy group. Patients were selected from the Myocardial Infarction Triage and Intervention Project Registry cohort of 12,331 consecutive patients admitted with acute myocardial infarction to 19 Seattle hospitals between 1988 and 1994. Because of the potential for selection bias, several subgroup analyses were performed that included patients eligible for thrombolysis, high-risk patients, and patients in the primary-angioplasty group who were treated at hospitals with high volumes of angioplasty.
Results: There was no significant difference in mortality during hospitalization or long-term follow-up between patients in the thrombolytic-therapy group and those in the primary-angioplasty group (mortality during hospitalization, 5.6 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively; P=0.93; adjusted hazard ratio for the risk of death within three years after primary angioplasty, 0.95; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.8 to 1.2). There was also no significant difference in mortality between high-risk subgroups of patients in the two treatment groups. The rates of procedures and costs were lower among patients in the thrombolytic-therapy group both at the time of hospital discharge and after three years of follow-up (30 percent fewer coronary angiograms, 15 percent fewer coronary angioplasties, and 13 percent lower costs after three years of follow-up).
Conclusions: In a community setting, we observed no benefit in terms of either mortality or the use of resources with a strategy of primary angioplasty rather than thrombolytic therapy in a large cohort of patients with acute myocardial infarction.