Analysis of the relative costs and effectiveness of primary angioplasty versus tissue-type plasminogen activator: the Primary Angioplasty in Myocardial Infarction (PAMI) trial. The PAMI Trial Investigators

J Am Coll Cardiol. 1997 Apr;29(5):901-7. doi: 10.1016/s0735-1097(97)00041-7.


Objectives: We sought to determine the relative cost and effectiveness of two different reperfusion modalities in patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI).

Background: Recent studies have found superior clinical outcomes after reperfusion by primary percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) compared with thrombolytic therapy. The high up-front costs of cardiac catheterization may diminish the relative advantages of this invasive strategy.

Methods: Detailed in-hospital charge data were available from all 358 patients with AMI randomized to tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA) or primary PTCA in the United States from the Primary Angioplasty in Myocardial Infarction trial. Resource consumption during late follow-up was estimated by assessment of major clinical events and functional status.

Results: Compared with t-PA, primary PTCA resulted in reduced rates of in-hospital mortality (2.3% vs. 7.2%, p = 0.03), reinfarction (2.8% vs. 7.2%, p = 0.06), recurrent ischemia (11.3% vs. 28.7%, p < 0.0001) and stroke (0% vs. 3.9%, p = 0.02) and a shorter hospital stay (7.6 +/- 3.3 days vs. 8.4 +/- 4.7 days, p = 0.04). Despite the initial costs of cardiac catheterization in all patients with the invasive strategy, total mean (+/- SD) hospital charges were $3,436 lower per patient with PTCA than with t-PA ($23,468 +/- $13,410 vs. $26,904 +/- $18,246, p = 0.04), primarily due to the reduction in adverse in-hospital outcomes. However, professional fees were higher after primary PTCA ($4,185 +/- $3,183 vs. $3,322 +/- $2,728, p = 0.001), and thus total charges, although favoring PTCA, were not significantly different ($27,653 +/- $13,709 vs. $30,227 +/- 18,903, p = 0.21). At a mean follow-up time of 2.1 +/- 0.7 years, no major differences in postdischarge events or New York Heart Association functional class were present between PTCA- and t-PA-treated patients, suggesting similar late resource consumption. Including in-hospital events, 83% of PTCA-treated patients were alive and free of reinfarction at late follow-up, compared with 74% of t-PA-treated patients (p = 0.06).

Conclusions: Compared with t-PA, reperfusion by primary PTCA improves clinical outcomes with similar or reduced costs. These findings have important clinical implications in an increasingly cost-conscious health care environment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Angioplasty, Balloon, Coronary / economics*
  • Female
  • Hospital Charges
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plasminogen Activators / economics
  • Plasminogen Activators / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / economics*
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / economics
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / therapeutic use*


  • Plasminogen Activators
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator