Objectives: This study sought to compare the efficacy of 2-h regimens of alteplase and streptokinase in acute massive pulmonary embolism. The primary end point was immediate hemodynamic improvement, and secondary end points included early clinical efficacy and safety, as well as 1-year clinical outcome.
Background: Several thrombolytic regimens have been compared for the past 10 years in randomized studies, showing that 2-h infusion regimens of alteplase or urokinase lead to faster hemodynamic improvement than former 12- to 24-h administration protocols in acute massive pulmonary embolism. Many trials have focused on immediate hemodynamic and angiographic outcomes, but none has addressed long-term follow-up after thrombolysis.
Methods: Sixty-six patients with acute massive pulmonary embolism (Miller score > 17 and mean pulmonary artery pressure >20 mm Hg) were randomly assigned to receive either a 100-mg 2-h infusion of alteplase (n = 23) or 1.5 million IU of streptokinase over 2 h (n = 43). In both groups, heparin infusion was started at the end of thrombolytic infusion and adapted thereafter. Total pulmonary resistance was monitored over a 12-h period. Pulmonary vascular obstruction was assessed 36 to 48 h after thrombolytic therapy. One-year follow-up information included death, cause of death, recurrent pulmonary embolism, chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, stroke and bleeding.
Results: Both groups had similar baseline angiographic and hemodynamic characteristics of severity, with maintained cardiac output in 64 (97%) of 66 patients. The results (mean +/- SD) demonstrated that despite a faster total pulmonary resistance improvement observed at 1 h in the alteplase group compared with the streptokinase group (33+/-16% vs. 19 16%, p = 0.006), a similar hemodynamic efficacy was obtained at 2 h when both thrombolytic regimens were completed (38+/-18% vs. 31+/-19%). There was no significant difference in either pulmonary vascular obstruction at 36 to 48 h or bleeding complication rates. One-year event-free survival was similar in both groups, as most events were related to concomitant diseases.
Conclusions: These results suggest that a 2-h regimen of streptokinase can be routinely used in patients with massive pulmonary embolism and maintained cardiac output without obviously compromising efficacy or safety.