Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) is often performed after acute myocardial infarction (AMI) either as an adjuvant to thrombolytic therapy or instead of thrombolysis. The effect of PTCA in AMI on mortality and reinfarction has remained unclear, with the available randomized trials indicating inconsistent results.
Methods and Results
A systematic overview (meta-analysis) of the randomized trials was conducted to assess the effect of PTCA in AMI on mortality and reinfarction rates. Data from 7 trials in which primary PTCA was evaluated and 16 trials in which PTCA after thrombolysis was studied were included in this overview, comprising a total of 8496 patients. The trials represented different approaches to the timing of PTCA after AMI. The trials of PTCA after thrombolytic therapy were also categorized according to the different protocols with respect to the routine or elective character of PTCA in the invasive group. A reduction in short-term (6 week) mortality (odds ratio, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.33, 0.94) and in the combined outcome of short-term mortality and nonfatal reinfarction (odds ratio, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.35, 0.80) was observed in the trials comparing primary PTCA with thrombolytic therapy. In contrast, in trials in which an approach of thrombolysis and PTCA was compared with thrombolytic therapy alone, there was no important difference in early mortality, with an apparent reduction in mortality between 6 and 52 weeks. The lower mortality between 6 and 52 weeks among 6-week survivors seemed to be restricted to the subgroup of trials in which PTCA was used as a routine strategy (odds ratio, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.39, 0.87).
Although the analyses of the various categories of trials suggest that primary PTCA may be more beneficial than thrombolytic therapy in AMI, these data should be interpreted cautiously unless confirmed by larger studies. In contrast, the addition of various other strategies of PTCA to thrombolytic therapy does not convincingly indicate a clinically different outcome than if a more conservative strategy is followed, in which PTCA is used only if clinically indicated. Some specific strategies, however, such as rescue PTCA in high-risk patients with occluded arteries, may be of benefit.