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BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2005 Feb 11;5(1):5.

Nine-year comparison of presentation and management of acute coronary syndromes in Ireland: a national cross-sectional survey.

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Department of Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, 123 St, Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland.



Shorter time to treatment is associated with lower mortality in acute coronary syndromes (ACS). A previous (1994) survey showed substantial delays for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in Ireland. The present study compared current practice with 1994 and surveyed acute coronary syndromes as a more complete contemporary evaluation of critical cardiac care than assessing AMI alone.


Following ethics committee approval, all centres (N = 39) admitting acute cardiac patients to intensive/coronary care unit provided information on 1365 episodes. A cross-sectional survey design was employed.


Since 1994, median hospital arrival to thrombolysis time was reduced by 41% (76 to 45 minutes). Thrombolysis was delivered more often in the emergency department in 2003 (48% vs 2%). Thrombolysis when delivered in the emergency department was achieved faster than thrombolysis delivered in intensive/coronary care (35 mins v 60 mins; z = 5.62, p < .0001). Suspected AMI patients who did not subsequently receive thrombolysis took longer to present to hospital (5 h vs 2 h 34 mins; z = 7.33, p < .0001) and had longer transfer times to the intensive/coronary care unit following arrival (2 h 17 mins vs 1 h 10 mins; z = 8.92, p < .0001). Fewer confirmed AMI cases received thrombolysis in 2003 (43% vs 58%). There was an increase in confirmed cases of AMI from 1994 (70% to 87%).


Substantial improvements in time to thrombolysis have occurred since 1994, probably relating to treatment provision in emergency departments. Patient delay pre-hospital is still the principal impediment to effective treatment of ACS. A recent change of definition of AMI may have precluded an exact comparison between 1994 and 2003 data.

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