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JAMA. 1992 Dec 2;268(21):3108-14.

Thrombolytic therapy of acute myocardial infarction. Keeping the unfulfilled promises.

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Department of Medicine, Medical Center of Delaware, Newark 19713.



To assess the use of thrombolytic therapy for acute myocardial infarction, evaluating whether inclusion and exclusion criteria should be altered as well as the public health implications of any such alterations.


Data obtained were from English-language articles on the use of thrombolytic therapy in acute myocardial infarction. Articles that reported on inclusion and exclusion criteria as well as specific complications of this therapy were specifically sought. The review included articles under the terms thrombolytic therapy and acute myocardial infarction in the National Library of Medicine's MEDLINE database.


Studies selected for detailed review were those reporting specifics about inclusion and exclusion criteria and efficacy. Data extraction guidelines for assessing data quality included study size, patient population, detail of patient information acquired, and consecutive patient enrollment.


Thrombolytic therapy can provide substantial decrements of morbidity and mortality of acute myocardial infarction in the subset of patients who receive this therapy, but is underused in the United States. Advanced age per se should not be an exclusion criterion. Improvements can be made in electrocardiographic diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction. Many of the clinical conditions initially excluded from thrombolytic consideration, such as hypertension or having received cardiopulmonary resuscitation, are only relative contraindications. The benefit/risk ratio in treatment of these patients is often acceptable. Several well-documented points of delay from onset of symptoms to treatment can be minimized, and accelerated therapy can result in a reduction in mortality rates.


Significant public health benefits will result from greater use of thrombolytic therapy in acute myocardial infarction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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