Aims: To describe patient characteristics, pre-hospital delay, treatment, complications and outcome in patients with acute myocardial infarction admitted to hospitals in Germany.
Methods and results: The study was of prospective observational multicentre design. Those involved were consecutive patients with acute Q-wave myocardial infarction admitted within 96 h of onset of symptoms to 136 German hospitals between July 1992 and September 1994 (n = 14980, median age 66 (quartiles 57, 74) years, 68% male, 48% anterior wall infarction). Median pre-hospital delay was 170 (90, 475) min, with 17% arriving within the first hour and 61% within 4 h of onset of symptoms. The following patient groups had a short pre-hospital delay: males, those aged less than 65 years, those admitted at night or the weekend, those with a previous myocardial infarction, those in need of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and those with a diagnostic first ECG. The first ECG was diagnostic in 67.6% of cases. Reperfusion therapy was used in 53%, with thrombolytic therapy in 51.6%. Median time from admission to initiation of treatment was 30 (20, 55) min. Respective rates of treatment with aspirin, nitrates, and beta-blockers were 81%, 83%, and 16%. Major complications were cerebral bleeding (0.4%), bleeding requiring transfusions (0.9%), left ventricular rupture (0.6%) and anaphylactic shock (0.1%). Median hospital stay was 20 (13, 26) days. In-hospital death rate was 17.2%. Increased hospital mortality was observed with female gender, an unknown or long pre-hospital delay, a diagnostic first ECG, anterior wall infarction, trauma or major operation within the last 14 days, renal insufficiency and malignoma.
Conclusions: 'Real-life' hospital mortality is much higher than previously reported in clinical trials. To reduce hospital mortality, the efficacy of thrombolysis should be increased by shortening the pre-hospital delay, and the use of concomitant therapy, especially beta-blockers, should be increased.