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Circulation. 2004 Mar 16;109(10):1223-5. Epub 2004 Mar 8.

Time delay to treatment and mortality in primary angioplasty for acute myocardial infarction: every minute of delay counts.

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Department of Cardiology, ISALA Klinieken, Zwolle, The Netherlands.



Although the relationship between mortality and time delay to treatment has been demonstrated in patients with acute ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) treated by thrombolysis, the impact of time delay on prognosis in patients undergoing primary angioplasty has yet to be clarified. The aim of this report was to address the relationship between time to treatment and mortality as a continuous function and to estimate the risk of mortality for each 30-minute delay.


The study population consisted of 1791 patients with STEMI treated by primary angioplasty. The relationship between ischemic time and 1-year mortality was assessed as a continuous function and plotted with a quadratic regression model. The Cox proportional hazards regression model was used to calculate relative risks (for each 30 minutes of delay), adjusted for baseline characteristics related to ischemic time. Variables related to time to treatment were age >70 years (P<0.0001), female gender (P=0.004), presence of diabetes mellitus (P=0.002), and previous revascularization (P=0.035). Patients with successful reperfusion had a significantly shorter ischemic time (P=0.006). A total of 103 patients (5.8%) had died at 1-year follow-up. After adjustment for age, gender, diabetes, and previous revascularization, each 30 minutes of delay was associated with a relative risk for 1-year mortality of 1.075 (95% CI 1.008 to 1.15; P=0.041).


These results suggest that every minute of delay in primary angioplasty for STEMI affects 1-year mortality, even after adjustment for baseline characteristics. Therefore, all efforts should be made to shorten the total ischemic time, not only for thrombolytic therapy but also for primary angioplasty.

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