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Heart. 1999 June; 81(6): 598–602.
PMCID: PMC1729074

Relevance of clinical trial results in myocardial infarction to medical practice: comparison of four year outcome in participants of a thrombolytic trial, patients receiving routine thrombolysis, and those deemed ineligible for thrombolysis


OBJECTIVE—To assess the medium to long term outcome of patients ineligible for thrombolysis compared to those enrolled in a clinical trial of thrombolysis and patients receiving non-trial thrombolysis.
DESIGN—Cohort study based on the Nottingham heart attack register.
SETTING—Two district general hospitals serving a defined urban/rural population.
SUBJECTS—All patients admitted with a confirmed acute myocardial infarction during 1992 categorised as either participants of a thrombolytic trial (group A, n = 140), receiving non-trial thrombolysis (group B, n = 329), or deemed ineligible for lytic treatment (group C, n = 431).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES—Background characteristics, inhospital treatment, patterns of follow up, referrals to cardiologists, revascularisation rates, and short and long term survival.
RESULTS—Clinical trial recruits were younger by almost 10 years, were less likely to have a previous history of myocardial infarction, and more likely to be in Killip class 1 on admission than those ineligible for thrombolysis. Cardiology follow up was mandatory for all surviving trial participants but 22% of patients in group B and 31% of patients in group C received no follow up, and during four years less than 50% ever saw a cardiologist. Revascularisation was performed in 17.2% of patients in group A, 13.6% of patients in group B, and 7.5% of patients in group C. Cumulative mortality at a median of four years was 24.3% in group A, 36.8% in B, and 59.6% in group C. Adjusting for age, sex, previous myocardial infarction, type of infarction, and Killip class in a logistic regression model the odds ratios (OR) of death at four years for groups B and C were 1.60 (95% confidence intervals (CI) 0.97 to 2.63, p = 0.065) and 2.64 (95% CI 1.61 to 4.32, p < 0.001), respectively, when compared to group A (OR 1).
CONCLUSIONS—Patients enrolled into thrombolytic trials are at low risk. Patients deemed ineligible for thrombolysis are high risk, receive less surveillance, are less likely to be revascularised or receive trial proven treatments, have a poor long term outcome not entirely explained by increased age or severity of infarction, and deserve further evaluation.

Keywords: myocardial infarction; thrombolysis; clinical trials

Figure 1
Unadjusted survival curves using Cox regression in patients enrolled into a thrombolytic trial (group A), those given non-trial thrombolysis (group B), and those deemed ineligible for thrombolysis (group C).

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