Background: Non-Q-wave myocardial infarction is usually managed according to an "invasive" strategy (i.e., one of routine coronary angiography followed by myocardial revascularization).
Methods: We randomly assigned 920 patients to either "invasive" management (462 patients) or "conservative" management, defined as medical therapy and noninvasive testing, with subsequent invasive management if indicated by the development of spontaneous or inducible ischemia (458 patients), within 72 hours of the onset of a non-Q-wave infarction. Death or nonfatal infarction made up the combined primary end point.
Results: During an average follow-up of 23 months, 152 events (80 deaths and 72 nonfatal infarctions) occurred in 138 patients who had been randomly assigned to the invasive strategy, and 139 events (59 deaths and 80 nonfatal infarctions) in 123 patients assigned to the conservative strategy (P=0.35). Patients assigned to the invasive strategy had worse clinical outcomes during the first year of follow-up. The number of patients with one of the components of the primary end point (death or nonfatal myocardial infarction) and the number who died were significantly higher in the invasive-strategy group at hospital discharge (36 vs. 15 patients, P=0.004, for the primary end point; 21 vs. 6, P=0.007, for death), at one month (48 vs. 26, P=0.012; 23 vs. 9, P=0.021), and at one year (111 vs. 85, P=0.05; 58 vs. 36, P= 0.025). Overall mortality during follow-up did not differ significantly between patients assigned to the conservative-strategy group and those assigned to the invasive-strategy group (hazard ratio, 0.72; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.51 to 1.01).
Conclusions: Most patients with non-Q-wave myocardial infarction do not benefit from routine, early invasive management consisting of coronary angiography and revascularization. A conservative, ischemia-guided initial approach is both safe and effective.