Aims: Treatment delay is a powerful predictor of survival in STEMI patients undergoing primary PCI. We investigated the effectiveness of pre-hospital triage with direct referral to PCI, alongside more conventional referral strategies.
Methods and results: From January 2003 to December 2007, 1,619 STEMI patients were referred for primary PCI at our cathlab through two main triage groups: i.e., 1) following pre-hospital triage (n=524), 2) via more conventional triages (n=1,095) represented by the S. Orsola-Malpighi hospital emergency department triage (hub hospital) and local hospital triage. Pre-hospital diagnosis was associated with a 76 minute reduction in pain-to-balloon time (143 [107-216] vs. 219 [149-343], p=0.001) allowing mechanical revascularisation within 90 minutes from the first medical contact in the vast majority of the patients (>80%). Clinically, pre-hospital triage showed no significant reductions in terms of adjusted long-term mortality (HR 0.81, 95% CI 0.61-1.08; p=0.16) in the overall population. However, significant adjusted survival benefits were observed in high-risk groups (i.e., cardiogenic shock, TIMI risk score >30, diabetes mellitus).
Conclusions: This study shows that pre-hospital diagnosis allows for significant reductions in primary PCI treatment delays and suggests the hypothesis that this referral strategy might provide long-term survival benefits especially in high-risk patients.