Comparison of outcomes of ambulance users and nonusers in ST elevation myocardial infarction.

Boothroyd LJ, Lambert LJ, Segal E, Ross D, Kouz S, Maire S, Harvey R, Xiao Y, Brown KA, Nasmith J, Bogaty P


In a systematic province-wide evaluation of care and outcomes of ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), we sought to examine whether a previously documented association between ambulance use and outcome remains after control for clinical risk factors. All 82 acute care hospitals in Quebec (Canada) that treated at least 30 acute myocardial infarctions annually participated in a 6-month evaluation in 2008 to 2009. Medical record librarians abstracted hospital chart data for consecutive patients with a discharge diagnosis of myocardial infarction who presented with characteristic symptoms and met a priori study criteria for STEMI. Linkage to administrative databases provided outcome data (to 1 year) and co-morbidities. Of 1,956 patients, 1,222 (62.5%) arrived by ambulance. Compared with nonusers of an ambulance, users were older, more often women, and more likely to have co-morbidities, low systolic pressure, abnormal heart rate, and a higher Thrombolysis In Myocardial Infarction risk index at presentation. Ambulance users were less likely to receive fibrinolysis or to be sent for primary angioplasty (78.5% vs 83.2% for nonusers, p = 0.01), although if they did, treatment delays were shorter (p <0.001). The 1-year mortality rate was 18.7% versus 7.1% for nonusers (p <0.001). Greater mortality persisted after adjusting for presenting risk factors, co-morbidities, reperfusion treatment, and symptom duration (hazard ratio 1.56, 95% confidence interval 1.30 to 1.87). In conclusion, ambulance users with STEMI were older and sicker than nonusers. Mortality of users was substantially greater after adjustment for clinical risk factors, although they received faster reperfusion treatment overall.