July 25, 1994

Improved Health Benefits of Increased Use of Thrombolytic Therapy

Author Affiliations

From the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, Division of General Internal Medicine (Dr Fendrick), the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (Drs Fendrick and Bloom), and the Health Care Systems Department (Drs Fendrick and Bloom), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; and the Division of Cardiology and Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Dr Ridker).

Arch Intern Med. 1994;154(14):1605-1609. doi:10.1001/archinte.1994.00420140071009

Background:  To quantify population health consequences of increased use of thrombolytic therapy for acute myocardial infarction in the United States.

Methods:  A decision analytic model was constructed to evaluate treatment-related outcomes for two myocardial infarction treatment strategies: standard therapy and standard therapy plus combination aspirin-thrombolytic therapy. Patients were entered into the model by age, electrocardiographic presentation, and time to medical evaluation. Estimated mortality changes associated with increased use of thrombolytic therapy were calculated both for populations for which thrombolytic therapy is recommended and for specific patient populations for which thrombolytic therapy is not recommended under current guidelines. Sensitivity analyses tested the robustness of results when input variables were altered.

Results:  If every patient with acute myocardial infarction for whom thrombolytic therapy is recommended under current guidelines were treated with aspirin and a thrombolytic agent, more than 4000 additional lives would be saved annually in the United States. The model projected that approximately 8000 additional lives could be saved if use of thrombolytic therapy were expanded to include the following patient groups: age greater than 75 years (approximately 4500 lives saved), left bundle-branch block on electrocardiogram (approximately 2500 lives saved), and presentation 6 to 12 hours after the onset of chest pain (approximately 2000 lives saved). Sensitivity analysis demonstrated a mortality advantage attributable to the use of thrombolytic therapy in each clinical scenario tested.

Conclusions:  Providing thrombolytic therapy more aggressively could prevent over 12 000 deaths from acute myocardial infarction each year in the United States.(Arch Intern Med. 1994;154:1605-1609)